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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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gluten free healthy almond flour pumpkin cake
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Fall is technically 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 get in the autumn spirit and make some fall recipes. First up, pumpkin cake!

 

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. I am all about adding more nutrients to my food to help my body feel its best. 

 

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. They also make a good packed snack for traveling. 
 
 

Mini Pumpkin Cakes

Makes 12-15 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  muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each cup until almost full. Bake in oven for 20 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
 
 
Gluten Free healthy pumpkin cake

Nutrition Info (per muffin out of 12 muffin batch)

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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In December I was in a mad search for a healthy gluten free appetizer to take to a holiday party and I could not find anything that really struck my fancy. I found a few recipes that incorporated sweet potato rounds, which I thought was really interesting but they had guacamole on top, which sounds delicious and I probably will make that at some point in the future, but I wanted something a little more wintery and holiday-ish to bring. (If you are curious about the guacamole sweet potato appetizers, I have a few pinned on my pinterest page @DelishnNutrish) So I knew I wanted sweet potatoes as base, they are full of vitamin A, fiber and potassium and low in fat, making them a nutritional powerhouse, plus they are delicious. But what do I put on top? While I contemplated this I turned on an old re-run of Iron Chef America….and the secret ingredient was….mascarpone cheese! So i decided to make a mascarpone cheese topping with pecans to give it a little crunch (pecans are heart healthy and can actually help lower bad cholesterol) and some vanilla extract and cinnamon sugar. The topping turned out really delicious and the flavors melded well with the sweet potato base. You can actually do this recipe hot or cold, I went with hot but I think it would be just as good cold.

Sweet Potato Bites

Ingredients

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Allspice

8 oz Mascarpone Cheese

3/4 Cup Chopped Pecans

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes off well and slice in 1/4 inch thick rounds (Don’t peel the skin off).  Add slices of potatoes to mixing bowl and coat with olive oil. Add cinnamon and allspice and mix until spices are evenly distributed. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place sliced potatoes on parchment. Bake for ~30 minutes. While potatoes are baking, you can prepare the topping. Mix remaining ingredients together in a small mixing bowl (cheese, pecans, cinnamon sugar and vanilla) and refrigerate until potatoes are done cooking. After potatoes are cooked through (~30 minutes), remove from oven. (If serving cold, allow to cool) Add topping by the teaspoonful to each potato slice. If serving hot, put potatoes with topping back into the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and serve. Makes 35-40.

Sweet Potato Bites

 

 

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