Healthy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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When it comes to exclusively fall foods, pumpkin is one that certainly comes to mind.  No other time of year do I want to ingest a Jack-o-lantern, let alone crave it.  There is something so indulgent but at the same time healthy.  Pumpkin is a type of squash full of vitamins (A,B,C, and K) and minerals.  The flavor is distinct but it is easily used in seasonal drinks, desserts, and now healthy smoothies.  I feel like I’m playing a trick on my body with this treat because it tastes so good but is really good for me.

I used my Vitamix blender to get the rich and velvety quality of the smoothie, in just 45 seconds of blend time you have guest pleasing dessert…or breakfast if you desire.

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
-1/2 cup of almond milk or coconut milk (I mixed the two 50/50)
-1 frozen banana
-1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
-1/4 heaping tsp of pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 Tbsp of vanilla extract
-1 Tbsp maple syrup (I used a grade B syrup with rich flavor, you can use agave or brown sugar here too)
-1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix blender and slowly increase speed to high, blend for 45 seconds.  Add more milk if needed for consistency.

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Note:

-If you don’t have your banana frozen, put it in fresh and add a small handful of ice, you may need more milk when doing this.

-To make this more of a breakfast treat, try adding 1/4 cup of rolled oats or sprinkle with flax seed.

-Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg if serving for dessert.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

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On the weekends we like to make the most of our Breville Barista Express, making what we consider a latte.  We bought it as a Christmas present for ourselves last year and have not been disappointed with the purchase.  It has even turned us into bean snobs, right now we only order in beans from Brooklyn.  You can taste the difference and the grind is so much better than any bean from Starbucks.

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With a little crisp of Fall in the air I wanted to make the ever famous Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I browsed a lot of recipes online before settling with these proportions below.  I tried to make it both healthy and light in flavor as I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m drinking the uncooked filling of a pumpkin pie.

Ingredients: 

– 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened

-1 cup of coconut milk (from a can, I like Trader Joe’s light version)

– 2-3 Tbsp up to 1/4 cup Pumpkin puree (I used the Libby’s brand)

– 2 Tbsp vanilla extract

– 1/2 to 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

-1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground cloves

-a few dashes of nutmeg, freshly ground if you have it

– 2 Tbsp amber agave syrup or maple syrup, more to taste

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Directions:

1. In a small heavy sauce pan heat above ingredients (I used heaping proportions of spices and agave) without bringing to a boil for 5 minutes.  Mix well.

2. Use as a creamer in coffee, steam for a latte mixed with a shot of espresso, or pour over ice with a shot of espresso for an iced version.

3. Since the mix can be light depending on how heavy you are with proportions, you will want to add a bit to the coffee for a fuller pumpkin spice flavor.  I added half coffee and half heated creamer.  The best flavor match-up is a shot or two of espresso and a cup of the creamer, warm or over ice.

4. Garnish with pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg.

5. Store the extra in the fridge for a few days in a sealed container.

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Enjoy!

 

Gourd Centerpiece

Entertaining is about more than just the company, just the food, or just the celebratory event itself.  As I get older and have friends over for dinner or host a party, I try to make it more of a special event rather than a last minute occasion.  To truly entertain I like to go above and beyond to pull everything together.  The drinks should enhance what you are serving, music and lighting can set the mood, appropriate serving ware and food presentations make everyone feel special.  Decor doesn’t need to be anything grandiose, a little bit can go a long way.  I like to have fresh flowers around the house to bring a little more to the table (literally), but come Fall flowers are not as vibrant as they were throughout the spring and summer.

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I saw a picture of a centerpiece consisting of a hurricane with 3 little pumpkins in it and I thought it was so cute and festive for Fall.   So I took it a step further and bought a basket full of gourds to fill up the tall flower vase on our buffet.  Picking out the gourds was the best part, there are so many shapes, colors, and sizes.  To give it more height I added some willow branches I got from the grocery store.  I think it turned out pretty nice and it could not have been easier.  As long as I don’t get bored with it, I plan to keep it out all the way through Thanksgiving!

2013-09-20 18.31.52As the weekend approaches, hopefully you will be inspired to add a little taste of fall to your home…even if it’s just for you to enjoy.