All Things Pumpkin

standard November 23, 2016 Leave a response


Many of my traditional holiday foods are centered around Christmas. Breads, muffins, cookies, candies. Even as a dietitian, there are still some classics that just must be made. I’ve at least got some healthy variations on my family classics to balance out the sugar, and they always get made around an event so they’re not sitting in the house for me to eat all by myself!


While I really don’t get the whole “pumpkin spice” craze, I do love pumpkin-based foods during the holidays. Not just treats, but savory dishes as well. Pumpkin hummus makes a great snack for every day or a party appetizer. And pumpkin smoothies make for a high-protein snack disguised as a decadent treat in flavor. Many of my go-to classic pumpkin dishes for this season are really old recipes from before I had a decent camera or recipe writing skills. Many of my old recipes have zero pictures with them, which I find rather amusing. So I went back and remade a few of them, tweaked the recipes, and added some much needed pictures.


Pumpkin Classics:


And as a bonus, here are some more delicious seasonal favorites featuring pumpkin:



Vegan Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes

standard November 22, 2016 1 response


In the spirit of continuing on yesterday’s forgotten childhood foods, today’s recipe is a food definitely NOT forgotten over the years. I even made someone else’s vegan variation on this dish once, and was so disappointed in its authenticity that I never made any version of it again. But cheesy hash brown potato casserole is THE single food that my mother made every single Christmas, and sometimes Thanksgiving, that I looked forward to, that I was in charge of making, that I devoured any last bits out of the pan, lest there be any leftovers remaining. My husband’s family is so gracious in always making this every year when we visit as well, so I have very rarely had a Christmas without my beloved cheesy hash brown potatoes.


If you were to look at a recipe for this classic holiday dish, you will notice how completely not healthy it is. Besides the potatoes and onions, there is an alarming amount of saturated fat and cholesterol from the cheese, sour cream, and butter that makes this dish so addicting. So in an effort to make it more nutrient-dense as well as keep the authenticity of flavor from the original, I went back to my trusty hidden veggie cheese sauce. A little decadence from vegan cream cheese, a little convenience from sticking to the frozen hash brown potatoes (you could absolutely use fresh diced potatoes here, I just wanted to stick to the original as best I could), and you have an indulgent, satisfying side dish for all your holiday meals.


Vegan Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes

Yield: Serves 8

Calories per serving: 325 kcal


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 batch sneaky cheese sauce
  • 1/2 c vegan cream cheese, softened
  • 32 oz frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1/2 c crackers, crushed (I used Back to Nature Classic Rounds)
  • 2 T vegan butter (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x11 baking dish with coconut oil or vegan butter.
  2. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine potatoes, onion, sauce, and cream cheese together in a bowl. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and spread evenly.
  4. Top with crunchy topping. Dollop with small pieces of cold vegan butter if you're feeling decadent. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until bubbling and browned.


You can make this with still frozen potatoes, just increase the cook time by 15-30 minutes. You will also want to cover the dish for the first half hour, to ensure the sauce stays creamy and does not dry out.


Per serving: 325 calories, 37 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 6 g protein, 503 mg sodium, 3 g sugar



Vegan “Tuna” Noodle Casserole

standard November 21, 2016 3 responses


I have a lot of memories related to food. Many events and significant milestones are marked by the food involved. And then there are some food memories that are so mundane, so routine, that I remember them for their simplicity, the taste of the meal, the emotions around the occurrence, the joy in the repetition of knowing those foods would always be a part of my life.


Many foods from my childhood I have not eaten since I left home. While not necessarily “unhealthy,” they were just foods that I forgot about as I paved my way in my first kitchen out on my own. And then I got pregnant, and literally woke up in the middle of the night craving a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter. And after not purchasing bagels ever in my adult life, I found myself in the bread aisle at the grocery store the next day.

My all-time favorite food, hands-down, growing up was my mother’s tuna noodle casserole. A food on the list of many that I forgot about as I started creating and making and forming my own culinary path. And then I made a vegan dish one Thanksgiving, that while not remotely similar to tuna casserole, had a distinctive taste that reminded me of these flavors that I had enjoyed so much as a child. And then I promptly forgot about it again, never trying to make my own variation of it, until today. So, thanks to the Vegan Month of Food, we have a fairly authentic, slightly healthier variation on this classic childhood comfort food.


Vegan “Tuna” Noodle Casserole

Yield: Serves 8

Calories per serving: 435 kcal


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 c onion, diced
  • 1/2 c celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 c mushrooms
  • 1 14-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 1 T kelp flakes
  • 1/2 c walnuts
  • 2 tsp tamari
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 c raw cashews, soaked
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 16 oz curly noodles of choice
  • 1/4 c breadcrumbs or almond meal


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic, and saute until translucent. Remove from pan. Add mushrooms and let cook down while preparing next steps.
  2. In a food processor, combine onion mixture, salt, pepper, chickpeas + 1/4 c liquid, kelp flake, walnuts, lemon juice, tamari, parsley, and thyme until roughly chopped and combined.
  3. Drain and rinse cashews. Add to blender with water, salt, pepper, vinegar, and nutritional yeast, and blend on high until smooth. You want this to be runny.
  4. Add cashew mixture to saucepan with mushrooms. Stir to combine. Remove from heat quickly.
  5. Cook noodles according to package directions, but undercook by a few minutes. You want the noodles to be a little firm still. Add mushroom sauce and chickpea mixture to noodles and stir to combine.
  6. Pour into a greased 9x11 baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs or almond meal. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 10 minutes, until bubbling.


Per serving: 435 calories, 59 g carbohydrate, 16 g fat, 17 g protein, 210 mg sodium, 8 g sugar