This Sweet Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash Soup is perfect for cool Fall days. Butternut squash soup is one of those Fall comfort foods that grace the menus of restaurants this time of year. It’s actually really easy to make at home. A nifty trick I used is roasting the entire butternut squash whole. You literally throw the whole butternut squash in the oven and let it roast. It takes about an hour for the butternut squash to get tender. Then, you just cut it open, removethe seeds and scoop out the flesh. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
I made a batch of this for a friend recently and she loved it. Soup = Love. Spread it around.
Warm up your bellies with this 5 ingredient Sweet Spiced Butternut Squash Soup!
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Pumpkin pie spice and maple syrup add just a touch of sweetness to compliment the roasted butternut. A swirl of coconut cream is the final touch. If you like it creamier, feel free to stir in extra coconut milk into the soup.
Greetings from my cookbook recipe testing laboratory. I mean, my very messy kitchen. You wouldn’t believe all the dishes. All the measuring cups. All the mixing spoons. Lemons rolling everywhere. My brain is so full of recipe details that I hardly make sense anymore, but the successes fuel other successes. I’m so excited about the recipes I’ve finalized for my Love Real Food cookbook!
Since I’m struggling to keep my act together, I thought we’d go back to basics today with my basic granola recipe, which is also the best granola recipe. Granted, I’m partial, but it really is the best and I use that term sparingly. It was originally based on Meg Gordon’s recipe , which I’ve tweaked over time as I made my honey almond granola , gingerbread granola and cranberry orange granola . Now that you have my base recipe, you can play around with the mix-ins and spices to make it your favorite granola!
This homemade granola is leaps and bounds better (and healthier!) than any store-bought granola I’ve ever tried. You can’t beat freshly baked granola packed with delicious and good-for-you ingredients. You can preserve that freshly baked flavor by storing this granola in the freezer! Just pull it out and pour.
Old-fashioned oats: Heart-healthy, hearty, chewy oats keep their shape during baking. Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats if you need gluten-free granola.
Nuts and/or seeds: I used pecans and pepitas (green pumpkin seeds). Other options include walnuts, which are rich in Omega-3s, whole or slivered almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios and sunflower seeds!
Healthy fats: Oil helps make this granola crisp and irresistible. I prefer unrefined coconut oil , which is delicious (you can barely taste the coconut, if at all) and produces the perfect texture. You can use olive oil instead, if you’d like your granola to be a little more on the savory side.
Natural sweetener: I love using real maple syrup in my granola! Honey works great, too.
Salt and spice: Salt is totally necessary for flavorful granola! Too little and your flavors won’t sing. I prefer using fine-grain sea salt in this one (I always cook with fine-grain sea salt), but regular salt will do, too. I added cinnamon to this batch for some warmth. Ground ginger (in lesser quantities) and pumpkin spice blends are other options.
Dried fruit: I just added whole dried cherries once my granola cooled. Dried cherries aren’t too sweet and they’re rich in antioxidants. So are dried cranberries and other dried fruit. I love chopped dried apricots, especially the Blenheim variety, but you can add any dried fruit you like!
Other (optional) mix-ins: You can add chocolate chips only after the granola has completely cooled (they’ll melt). If you’d like to add coconut, you can add it halfway through baking for perfectly toasted coconut (see recipe note).
Let’s talk about clumpy granola. For maximum clump-age (sorry), your oats need to be a little crowded in the pan so they can stick together, but not so crowded that they don’t toast evenly. I recommend using a basic half sheet pan for this granola recipe. It’s the perfect size and the rimmed edges make sure no granola falls overboard. Be sure to line the pan with parchment paper so the sweetener sticks to your oats rather than the pan.
Beyond the equipment, I’ve had better luck achieving clumps with maple syrup rather than honey (couldn’t tell you why it works, but it does). Lastly, let the granola cool completely before breaking it up. I’ve even left it on the pan overnight, covered. If you want maximum clumps, after stirring it at the half-way point, gently press down on the granola with the back of a spatula to make sure the oats are pressed up against each other before putting the pan back in the oven.
This post includes ten tips on maintaining healthy hydration year-round, plus two hydrating recipes ~ Cranberry Pomegranate Chia Fresca Drinkand Hydrating “Knox Blox”.
This is a sponsored post by Ocean Spray®PACt® cranberry extract water
Did you know that ourbodies are about 60% water and that our brains are made of approximately 75% water? Water is needed to carry out all of ourbody’s normal functions – and it’s good for our mind, skin, waistline and heart.
During the summer, I naturally spend more time outdoors exercising and drink plenty of fluidsthroughout the day. Now as the seasons are changing and temperatures are falling,I’m trying hard to hold onto these healthy living habits by maintaining an exercise routine and healthy hydration. It’sdefinitely a challenge forme, as it is for many Americans.
Did you know that:
For fun, I took Ocean Spray’s Hydration IQ test and I’m embarrassed to say I only scored a 5. Although I try to drink a glass of water when I first wake up and with each meal, I’m not consistent about getting enough fluids the rest of the day, mainlybecause I get bored of drinking waterand I forget. So, I was game to try Ocean SprayPACt® cranberry extract water as a way to encourage myself to hydrate better and more meaningfully with cranberry health benefits.
PACt® cranberry extract water is a new productfrom Ocean Spray® that contains PACs, or proanthocyanidins– unique, powerful elements found deep inside cranberries, tohelp cleanse and purify your body better than water alone (PACs are found in cranberries, not in water).
I found Ocean Spray® PACt® cranberry extract waterto be a refreshing way to hydrate and mix things up during the day without a lot of calories.Each 16-ounce bottle has just 10 calories, and containsPACs from 50 cranberries. It does not contain GMO ingredients or artificial colors, is naturally sweetened with erythritol and stevia, and comes in four varieties: Cranberry Pomegranate, Cranberry Raspberry, Cranberry Blood Orange, and Cranberry Mango-Passionfruit. My son’s favorite flavor isCranberry Mango-Passionfruit.
Here are some ways I’m going to try to maintain healthy hydration as a good habit year-round, especially now that the weather is turning cooler:
10 Fun and Easy Ways To MaintainHydration Year-Round
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ThreeFunWaysMix Things Up and Stay Hydrated:
Water is always a great choice, but for a change of pace, try a spritzer (serve it cocktail style for fun).
Have you seen chia drinks in the supermarket? You can make your own Chia Fresca drink at home (recipe below).
These cute gelatin shapes are made withOcean SprayPACt® cranberry extract water and remind me of the Knox Blox snacks my mom used to make when I was a kid (recipe below).
I actually tried all these tips myself the last couple of weeks, and found thatmixing things up definitely helped and makes staying hydrating more fun.
This Cranberry PomegranateChia Fresca Drink and These FunShaped Knox Bloxkeep me hydrated…
Kohlrabi. It’s one of those alien-like vegetables that I avoid eye contact with when I’m walking down the produce line. (Remember that scene from E.T., when his face shows up in the middle of all the stuffed animals? Eeeek.) What is kohlrabi, anyway?
The name, “kohlrabi,” is a fun combination of German/Swiss words for cabbage and turnip, which is absolutely perfect. It’s a knobby, imperfectly round, tennis ball-shaped vegetable with a spout of leaves, which makes it looks like a turnip from Jupiter.
Kohlrabi comes in green or purple, but the flesh is white either way. Its dense insides remind me of a broccoli stalk. It smells kind of radish and tastes ambiguously cruciferous.
I almost couldn’t find kohlrabi at the store, but I finally spied one sad, limp bunch and took it home with me. I used a vegetable peeler to peel off the rough brown spots and sliced it up, along with an apple. The crisp radish/sweet apple thing seemed a little odd at first, but soon I couldn’t resist snacking on it.
Then I added some fresh tarragon, which has the most wonderful lemon-licorice flavor to it, as well as toasted sunflower seeds, lemon and olive oil. It was good. Strangely good. Crisp, sweet, a little savory. I added some Gouda cheese on a whim, after the photo shoot, and that cheese took the salad into this-salad-is-not-safe-around-me territory. I’d recommend adding Gouda if you’re a cheese eater. This kohlrabi salad/slaw makes a great light side salad for warm fall days.
The recipe comes from a new book called Cooking with Seeds: 100 Delicious Recipes for the Foods You Love, Made with Nature’s Most Nutrient-Dense Ingredients by Charlyne Mattox. It’s filled with creative ways to add seeds to both familiar and more exotic recipes. I expected a seed-focused book to utilize more whole grains and a little less butter, but it’s probably more approachable as written. Check it out if you’d like to learn how to work more seeds into your diet!
This Slow Cooker Chinese Three Cup Chicken Recipe is a lighter version of a traditional Chinese braised chicken dish.
I love authentic Chinese food but unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to come by where I live. Most of the restaurants around serve either Asian fusion food or Chinese American food. So, whenever I crave real Chinese food, I make it at home.
Fortunately, most Chinese food is not hard to make in a home kitchen. Although you can’t replicate the high heat stir-fried dishes, braised dishes and steamed dishes can be easily made at home. I made this for my niece from Taiwan recently and she called it “good old home cooking.” I took that as a compliment ;).
This Slow Cooker Chinese “Three Cup” Chicken recipe is a modified version of the original recipe, which literally calls for one cup each of sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine. I just can’t fathom using that amount of sesame oil or soy sauce in a single dish, so I’ve cut back on both of those ingredients. However, I did use one cup of rice wine since that’s the only liquid in the recipe. This recipe calls for dark soy sauce, which is actually less salty, a little sweeter and thicker than regular soy sauce. To make a gluten-free dark soy sauce substitute, mix alittle molasses into gluten-free soy sauce.
Braising can easily be donein a slow cooker, so that’s what I opted for. Of course, you could just cook this on the stove top, which would probably take about 30 minutes.
We’re just on the cusp of fall weather here. Leaves are starting to fall, but we still have at least another week of seventy degree days. I’m soaking up the best of both worlds while I can by taking Cookie on long walks during lunchtime and breaking out my favorite jackets in the evening.
I got so excited a couple of weeks ago when Adrianna of A Cozy Kitchen ’s new book, The Year of Cozy , landed on my doorstep. It’s a beautifully designed and photographed book filled with recipes and crafts for every month. The whole book is geared around making the most of each month (and making the most of life, really).
The book isn’t about adding more to the monthly to-do list, but about finding comfort from the stresses of everyday life in fun little side projects. I love it. As if it could get any better, she included plenty of pictures of her corgi, Amelia, and even a recipe for dog doughnuts and a dip-dyed rope dog leash. Cookie approves.
I found this spicy squash soup in the October chapter of the book, which is where the book begins. I was torn between this soup and her recipe for chocolate peanut butter cups, which I’ve always wanted to make. I’ve been battling a sore throat, though, so soup won. I don’t know if it was the soup or the nine hours of sleep that followed, but I’m cured!
Adrianna titled this soup “Chorizo”-Spiced Squash Soup, which I am sure is a more accurate title, but… I never liked sausage, even when I ate meat, so I can neither confirm nor deny the flavor connection. Basically, she uses spices found in chorizo to flavor the soup, including chile powder, cumin, oregano and coriander. Squash really needs some spice since it’s not super flavorful on its own, and I can confirm that Adrianna’s choice of spices are perfect here.
Adrianna suggests serving this soup with toasted bread to make it a full meal. A side salad would be great as well (maybe this one? ). It’s light but comforting, just perfect for getting cozy as the temperatures cool down.
Rise Above Heart Failureby making small lifestyle changes.
This post is sponsored by the American Heart Association to help raise awareness about heart failure
Do you know what heart failure is? I have to be honest – I thought I did, but I quickly realized I really didn’t after doing a little bit of research.
If you don’t know what heart failure is, don’t feel bad. It may be one of the most misunderstood major health issues facing the country today, but its impact is undeniable.
Here are some things I learned that were shocking:
Heart failure is a serious issue that needs our attention. As the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting cardiovascular diseases, the American Heart Association is beginning to chart a course to help improve the lives of Americans with this devastating condition.
So, what is heart failure?
Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body.
What can you do to stay healthy and prevent heart failure?
Small changes in lifestyle eventually add up to big results, such as eating a heart healthy diet (low on fat and salt and high in fruits, vegetables and fiber) or exercising more.
I’m very fortunate in that I am currently in great health. I give a lot of credit to my mom and grandmother who were both very health conscious. My grandmother used to go on long walks every day and my mom cooked very healthy. We didn’t grow up eating sweets; fruit was ourdessert. I’ve tried to continue this healthy way of life with my own family.
Although I am in greathealth right now, I want to make sure I stay in good healthas Iget older.
I’ve created a Heartie to remind me whatinspiresme to stay healthy ~ my four boys. See these little cuties? Iwant to be around to seemyboysmatureinto young adults, play with mygrandkids one day, travel to my bucket-list destinations, and ride into the sunset with my hubby.
My kids inspire me to live a heart healthy life. What inspires you?” #RiseAboveHF
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Heart failure is a significant issue that can’t be solved by any one person or organization alone. By encouraging one another with small changes we can make to live a healthier lifestyle, we can Rise Above Heart Failure.
So, today I’m pledging to improve my heart health by adding another 60minutes of exercise per week. It’s a small change, but small changes eventually add up to big results. There are days when I’m “too busy” to workout or take a walk. No more excuses.
Too soon? Nah. Plump pumpkins are lining the entrance to my grocery store, and I’ve already turned on the heater and broken in my new riding boots . To celebrate, I thought I’d round up all twelve of my pumpkin recipes , from muffins and scones to soup and pasta. I have quite a few more pumpkin ideas for you this fall, so stay tuned!
All but two of these recipes (the soup and pasta) make use of canned pumpkin. I’ve tried making my own pumpkin purée , and you’re welcome to do so, but I’ve found that canned pumpkin offers a more reliable flavor and texture. It’s also a whole lot easier.
For more October recipe inspiration, check out my October produce guide and fall recipe board on Pinterest!
No. 1: Creamy Pumpkin Soup Gluten free and vegan
Super creamy pumpkin soup made with real roasted pumpkin! I think it would turn out well with canned pumpkin, too, so please let me know if you give that a try.
No. 2: Pumpkin Spice Waffles Gluten free
Crispy spiced pumpkin waffles made with oat flour, so they’re gluten free! If you haven’t worked with oat flour before, it’s super easy to make yourself with old-fashioned oats in your blender.
No. 3: Maple-Sweetened Pumpkin Muffins with Oats Vegan option (use almond milk and flax eggs)
These pumpkin muffins have been a mega hit with readers. Feel free to add chopped pecans or chocolate chips or anything else that strikes your fancy.
No. 4: Homemade Pumpkin Chai Latte Gluten free and vegan
Here’s a creamy chai latte made with real pumpkin purée, spices and almond milk! It’s a Starbucks-style treat that you can feel good about.
No. 5: Pumpkin Oat Pancakes Gluten free
More pumpkin and oat goodness—these pancakes are hearty and fluffy at the same time.
No. 6: Pumpkin Pecan Scones with Maple Glaze Vegan
Oh boy, these are my favorite. Using coconut oil in place of butter is a vegan option that turns out great.
This tropical fruit Dairy-Free Mango Coconut Milk Smoothie is healthy, delicious and perfect for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up
I’ve been making smoothies for friends and my own family for a long time, but I’m always looking to change things up a bit. Recently, I made this Dairy-Free Mango Coconut Milk Smoothie for a friend undergoing chemo. When you’re going through chemo, keeping your weight up can be a challenge, especially if your appetite is waning. It would have been easy to add more calories if my friend could have tolerated dairy, but some folks going through chemo have an aversion to dairy. So, I tried to add some extra calories by using coconut milk, flax seed oil and coconut oil.
Food blogging has its perks. Sometimes, people offer to send me cookbooks. Sometimes, I find recipes in said books worth sharing with you all. This recipe, by Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw and the author of Food52 Vegan: 60 Vegetable-Driven Recipes for Any Kitchen , is one of them.
This recipe jumped out to me since savory sweet potatoes , kale , quinoa and pesto are a few of my favorite ingredients. It also seemed like a salad that would pack well for yesterday’s flights, and it did. I feel so accomplished when I arrive at the airport with a healthy meal in tow. Which, to be clear, is almost never. It’s a miracle when I remember to bring socks!
I found the final kicker in Gena’s headnote, which suggested that this is a salad for August or September, when basil is plentiful at farmers’ markets and sweet potatoes are just becoming available. Since September is almost over, I thought I’d better hurry up and make it.
I’m generally inclined to throw feta or goat cheese into my salads, so this salad was an exercise in restraint for me. I was also tempted to toss in some dried cranberries, too, or substitute pepitas for sunflower seeds, but it’s honestly just right as is. Note to self: less can be more, especially when an outrageously flavorful pesto-inspired dressing is involved.
I’m exploring the Pittsburgh area today with DeLallo and friends, so I’m signing off early. Be sure to let me know what you think of this salad and check out Gena’s book, Food52 Vegan , if you’re interested in vegan cooking or looking for dairy-free inspiration!