Perfect for a holiday party!
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Last weekend we decided to have a few of our friends over for appetizers and drinks to celebrate fall flavors and as a last little get together before the baby arrives…. Because who knows when we will be able to have people over again. The menu I had planned  included Skinny Pumpkin Dip with apples, Baked Brie with Pecans and Pears, a few other cheeses and grapes with gluten free crackers, butternut squash crostini (recipe coming soon) and sparkling cranberry apple cider.

I wanted to make a nonalcoholic drink that I could enjoy but of course also have the option of adding alcohol for everyone else…. So I decided to make an apple cider as a sort of “mixer” so everyone could add whatever alcohol they preferred to it. I also wanted to infuse a lot of fall flavors such as cinnamon and cranberries so I decided to cook some fruit with spices first then add it to the apple cider so the flavors could meld overnight. I didn’t want a warm apple cider because I live in south florida and it is not quite cool enough for that yet, but you can easily adapt the recipe to make it warm if that is what you prefer. Anyways, I topped my apple cider with soda water as I love a sparkling mocktail, and for the most part everyone else added a little bit of vodka and sparkling wine to their glasses, and seemed to enjoy it that way.

Sparkling Cranberry Apple Cider

Sparkling Cranberry Apple Cider

Ingredients
1-12 oz Bag Fresh Cranberries (about 3 cups)
1  Navel Orange – zested and cut into bite sized pieces
1 Pear- cored and cut into bite sized pieces
1 Apple – cored and cut into bite sized pieces
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Teaspoon All Spice
1 Gallon Apple Cider

Directions
Add cranberries, zest from orange, pieces of orange, Apple and pear along with cinnamon sticks, honey, all spice, and water to a medium saucepan.  Mix together and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about 10 min or until cranberries break open and flavors meld. Turn off stove top and allow to cool. Once cool, add to apple cider in a punch bowl or large pitcher and put in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, fill glass halfway with cider and then top with soda water or sparkling wine. If you like your drinks strong, add a little vodka or liquor of preference. Cheers!
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Harvest Chex Mix
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I love making homemade chex mix because you can make it with the exact amount of flavor you want and choose whatever kind of chex cereal and additional add ins you want to use. Because I am gluten free and don’t tolerate corn very well, I stick to the rice chex flavors, but there are still plenty of choices, so you can always mix it up. Rice chex comes in plain, cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla….mmmm 😛

Chex uses whole grains and simple ingredients so it is easy to turn your breakfast cereal into a healthy snack, as long as you make sure the rest of your ingredients are also good for you, or at least in moderation. Nuts, seeds, whole grains and dried fruit are all good choices for a healthy homemade chex mix, and the possibilities are endless! Just make sure you don’t add too much sugar and/or butter which could catapult your healthy intentions into a problem for your waistline.

Last weekend I was in the autumn spirit and wanted to make a chex mix that highlights fall flavors so I thought I would share my recipe. I used lots of cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg along with chex cereal, pecans and craisins to make my perfect seasonally appropriate chex mix.

Bowl of Harvest Chex Mix

Harvest Chex Mix

Ingredients
6 Cups Rice Chex
3 Cups Vanilla Rice Chex
2 Cups Pecan Halves
4 Tablespoons  “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light”
1 Tablespoon Honey
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons All Spice
2 Teaspoons Ginger
2 Teaspoons Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Craisins

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Add Chex and pecans to a large mixing bowl. Melt butter substitute in a small microwavable bowl or mug (put in microwave on 30 second intervals until melted) and mix in honey until dissolved. Pour mixture over Chex and pecans and mix until evenly coated. Add the spice mixture that was set aside earlier and continue mixing until evenly coated. Spread out on parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake in oven for twenty minutes. Remove from oven, toss mixture and then bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Add to large serving bowl, mix in craisins and serve.
Harvest Chex Mix Ingredients
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Gluten Free Mini Pumpkin Cakes
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Fall is here now so that means lots of warm autumn flavors and ingredients like pumpkin, apples and sweet potatoes. While it is still pretty warm here in south Florida, it is October and I am ready to make some fall recipes.

Pumpkin has many nutritional benefits and adding pureed unsweetened pumpkin to baked goods not only adds a different flavor but also adds vitamin A and dietary fiber, both things that are often lacking in desserts. And not to mention the calories added from the pumpkinare relatively low.

A few years ago I made a gluten free pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving dessert and it was moist, pumpkiny and delicious (the recipe can be found here: Pumpkin Cake). However, I wanted to alter the ingredients slightly to my liking and put the batter in a muffin tin so I can have perfectly portioned mini cakes, instead of having to slice a cake. I did add some chocolate chips to make it more dessert like but if you prefer more of a muffin appropriate for breakfast, you can leave those out.

Mini Pumpkin Cakes

Makes 12 cupcakes/muffins

Ingredients
1 Cup Unsweetened Canned Pure Pumpkin Puree
2 Cups Almond flour
3 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Unpacked Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Honey
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Cooking Spray
1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Add almond flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and spices to a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Add eggs,pumpkin, honey, vanilla extract, and oil to a smaller mixing bowl and stir. Slowly add wet ingredients into dry ingredients, mixing until uniform. Add chocolate chips to batter and mix in if desired. Spray 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each cup until about 3/4 full. Bake in oven for 20 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Mini Pumpkin Cake and Poppy

Nutrition Info (per muffin)

With Chocolate Chips
Calories: 230
Fat: 14g
Carbohydrates: 20g
Protein: 7g
Fiber: 3.3g

Without Chocolate Chips
Calories: 180
Fat: 11g
Carbohydrates: 14.5g
Protein: 6.5g
Fiber: 2.6g
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