Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

Hi, my name is Mandy and I’m REALLY late to the pumpkin game. I had to squeeze it in before Thanksgiving was over because pumpkin will then be a thing of the past and we’ll be bombarded with all things Christmas and minty. Truth is, I’ve actually created a handful of pumpkin goodies this season, but obviously haven’t been very good at sharing them here – I guess I’ll be prepared for next autumn though! I’m a pro at having fun and making a mess in the kitchen, but not so good at writing down measurements, photographing, and sitting down to write a how-to post. I’m making an early resolution for next year to be better about that. Heck, since Willow is so good with writing and spelling these days, maybe she can type them up for me 😉

(super quick…I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for all of your lovely comments, messages, and emails concerning my previous post. You guys are the BEST!)

The idea for this recipe came to me while falling asleep one night…like many ideas. Luckily I jotted things down before I passed out. Raise your hand if that’s happened to you! You say to yourself, “oh, I’ll remember it” and then wake up to everything all fuzzy. Good news is that this only took two trials to make it a reality! In the past, I had always made my crusts with either walnuts, almonds, or a combo of both. The idea that came to mind was for a buttery, almost cookie-like crust to be paired with a creamy, tangy filling. And how do you achieve a buttery richness without actual butter or oil??? PECANS!! And the addition of coconut butter just takes it over the edge. Baking the crust also helps bring out the butteriness and gives a nice slightly crispy texture.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE WITH PECAN COOKIE CRUST

{vegan, grain-free, gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free}

WHAT YOU NEED:

For the crust:

  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 3 Tablespoons softened coconut butter*
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt (optional)

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked for 4 hours)
  • 1/2 cup COYO plain yogurt**
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons softened coconut butter*
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch Himalayan salt (optional)

*NOT coconut oil. To soften the butter, you can either place the jar in a bowl of hot water or gently warm some in the oven while preheating.

**I have not tried this with any other coconut yogurt. I LOVE COYO because they don’t add sweetener, gums, citric acid, or natural flavors. I also love how thick their yogurt is! If you do use a different brand, you might need to add a little more cashews.

HOW TO:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Add the pecans into a food processor and pulse into fine pieces. Next add the remaining crust ingredients and pulse until a crust-like texture is formed (should stick together when you squeeze it with your fingers). If it doesn’t seem to hold together, then add a little more softened coconut butter.
  3. Press the crust into the bottom of a springform pan until evenly spread out and gently pierce with a fork all over. I used this 7″ pan. You can use muffin/tart tins if you don’t have a springform pan*
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the crust is golden. If using muffin tins, check at the 5 minute mark. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. While the crust is cooling, add all of your filling ingredients into a high-speed blender and mix until smooth. You can adjust the sweetness level (or salt) if desired. Once the crust is cooled, pour the filling over it and smooth out with a spatula. I also gently tap the pan against the counter to release any bubbles.
  6. Transfer the cheesecake to the freezer to chill for about 6-8 hours (best overnight). Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then slice and enjoy! Great topped with cinnamon, coconut whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer.

*If using muffin tins, use a strip of parchment paper in each cup before pressing in the crust. This will make for easier removal once the cheesecake is set (see photo below).

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

For blogging purposes, I used most of the crust in my 7″ springform pan and the remaining to make 12 mini tarts. If you do use a springform pan, I probably wouldn’t go any bigger than a 9″ because it would be a fairly thin cheesecake (crust and filling). Had I used the full recipe in my 7″ springform pan, there would be a generous layer of crust and thicker filling.

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

And here’s what the little tarts look like…I went heavier on the crust with these because I LOVE crust ❤

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Cookie Crust

I have another recipe coming (hopefully sooner than later) using this crust and it may or may not involve chocolate…stay tuned.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to those celebrating!

Thanks for stopping by!

RECIPE: AIP Banana Bread Pancakes

I have been trying to make a good AIP pancake now for months. I’m talking since way back in September. And when I say ‘good’ I mean so good that Willow doesn’t even miss the chocolate chips. When I presented this trial to her a couple of weeks ago, she hesitated to take a bite, but when she did, her face lit up. After three pancakes worth, she said, “these are my favorite! Can you keep making them??” YAY!! I finally did it! And the best part was that she didn’t even ask where the chocolate chips were, she just kept eating.

AIP Banana Bread Pancakes
In past trials, I’ve thrown in chocolate chips to make up for the gummy or mushy center…or to cover up the strange aftertaste. Thus defeating the purpose of AIP! After adjusting a few key ingredients, there is no need for masking flavors and I actually prefer these without maple syrup to keep the sweetness level lower…but I totally add a TON of extra cinnamon on top!

Every time we make these, our house smells like freshly baked banana bread for the rest of the day. It’s wonderful!

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AIP Banana Bread Pancakes
AIP BANANA BREAD PANCAKES

{grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan}

Makes 7-8 small pancakes

What you need:

  • 1 cup tigernut flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar*
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
  • pinch Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup gum-free coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider

*The combination of baking soda + cream of tartar is to replicate baking powder. Being on an AIP diet means staying away from commercial baking powders as they tend to contain cornstarch. If you’re not following an AIP diet, use 1 teaspoon of baking powder instead of the baking soda + cream of tartar.

How to:

  1. Start heating your pan over low-medium heat. I tend to keep it at notch 4 with my electric stove.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients; breaking apart any clumps of tigernut flour.
  3. Next, stir in the mashed banana and coconut milk. Finally, add in the apple cider vinegar and stir until just combined. This batter will be very thick.
  4. Add about a teaspoon of coconut oil to your hot pan and scoop small amounts of pancake batter into the pan and smooth it out into a circle with the back of a spoon. I personally like to use an ice cream scooper to make pancakes. With this specific recipe, I fill the scoop halfway because I find that they’re easier to flip when smaller.
  5. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 3 minutes. Unlike usual pancakes, these do not bubble up or get super dry edges to indicate when it’s time to flip. Depending on what pan you use, you might have to add more oil.
  6. Enjoy with maple syrup, fresh fruit, and extra cinnamon!

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 AIP Banana Bread Pancakes

Let me know if you give this recipe a try! Either come back and leave me some feedback or tag me on Instagram @be.sol.ful

Thanks for stopping by!

Grain-Free Peppermint Brownies

This time last year I shared a recipe for Triple Chocolate Peppermint Brownies and since they were a big hit, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could recreate them to be closer to my current “diet.” I was going to try and make them AIP compliant, but since Willow isn’t the biggest fan of carob, I thought I better stick to good old cacao.

So what adjustments did I make?

Instead of gluten-free all purpose flour, I used cassava flour.

I used coconut butter in place of raw tahini (oh, how I miss tahini!).

Instead of aquafaba, I subbed in pumpkin puree.

My first trial was too heavy on the cassava flour which not only left you with a somewhat overpowering taste in your mouth, but they were also on the dry side. Second trial got a little closer, but not up to my perfectionist standards 😉 Third time’s a charm and I knew that I finally nailed it when Willow took a bite and already asked for a second one…and said, “Mom, can we make these for Christmas?”

YAY! On that note, when we asked Willow what she wanted us to make for dinner on Christmas Eve, she replied: “Cookies.” I swear she does eat more than baked goods!

These brownies are NOT for the faint of heart as they’re super….

RICH

CHOCOLATEY

SWEET

CHEWY

FUDGY

Grain-Free Peppermint Brownies

GRAIN-FREE PEPPERMINT BROWNIES

{gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, seed-free, oil-free, vegan}

Makes 8 large brownies or 16 smaller ones

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1/3 cup Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar*
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree*
  • 1 Tablespoon NuStevia Cocoa Mint Syrup*
  • 1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 4 Tablespoons gum-free, unsweetened coconut milk*

*If you’d prefer to skip the stevia syrup, add an additional 1/4 cup coconut sugar and use 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract. You can use sweet potato puree instead of pumpkin (I recommend using white sweet potato) or you can do a combo of both. For the coconut milk I recommend either Trader Joe’s canned or Native Forest’s Organic Simple Coconut Milk.

HOW TO:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 8×8 baking dish.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cacao, coconut sugar, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a double boiler, gently melt together the chocolate chips and coconut butter; stirring frequently. Once smooth, remove from the stove and add it to your dry ingredients…along with the pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and stevia syrup.
  4. Once everything is combined, fold in the remaining 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips.
  5. Transfer the mix to your baking dish and either using your fingers or a spatula, flatten it out into an even layer. This batter will be very thick due to the cassava flour and you’ll be tempted to add in more liquid, but please don’t!
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before cutting.
  7. Enjoy!

If you have leftovers, I recommend warming them slightly before eating to allow the chocolate + coconut butter to soften a bit!

Grain-Free Peppermint Brownies

Grain-Free Peppermint Brownies

Merry (almost) Christmas, my friends! Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday!

Thanks for stopping by!

One-Bowl AIP Sugar Cookies

One-Bowl AIP Sugar Cookies

Ah, the glorious world of grain-free, nut-free, vegan baking. Have you tried it? It’s definitely NOT easy and I bow to those who are seasoned pros because after just a few trials I was ready to pull my hair out and throw in the towel. But I’m glad I didn’t because otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing our new favorite cookie recipe with you!

What’s your cookie type?

Are you a crunchy or soft cookie kind of person?? For me, it depends on the cookie. I love a pillow-y, melt-in-your-mouth, soft snickerdoodle or peanut butter cookie, but when it comes to sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies, I’m a sucker for the crispy ones. It brings me back to my childhood and my Mom’s fabulous chocolate chip cookies.

I tried experimenting with coconut flour, cassava flour, arrowroot, tapioca flour, but hit fail after fail. It wasn’t until my friend, Rebecca shared her recipe for snickerdoodles that I was hit with the realization that I hadn’t tried using tigernut flour! I’ve used it to make pancakes (which Willow didn’t like, but Josh & I did), so I decided to give it a try in cookies.

Obviously the tigernut flour worked, otherwise we wouldn’t be here today with this recipe (it only took three trials)! And the best part is….only SIX ingredients and ONE bowl! Super simple. Thank you for the inspiration, Rebecca!!! xo

Josh thought I should title these: So Good You’ll Want to Go AIP Sugar Cookies…kind of a long title, don’t you think? 😉

One-Bowl AIP Sugar Cookies

These have a wonderful crispy exterior with a soft center and they absolutely melt in your mouth with a buttery deliciousness! I gave myself a tummy ache testing these out since I still can’t tolerate sweet too well, but with the holidays fast approaching, cookies are a must! I’m happy to report that they got a thumbs up from all who tried them!

I realize that there are chocolate chips here when they’re supposed to be sugar cookies, but that’s what happens when you have a four-year-old chocoholic helping you. So you have the option to make just sugar cookies OR chocolate chip cookies…both are equally delicious.

One-Bowl AIP Sugar Cookies

Makes 10-14 depending on size of cookie scoop

What You Need:

  • 1 cup TigerNut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil (solid)
  • 2 Tablespoons Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (optional or for AIP use carob chips)

How To:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Using a stand up mixer with the paddle attachment, combine all of the ingredients (except the chocolate chips). Once everything is well incorporated and there aren’t any signs of coconut oil,  you can fold in the chocolate chips. If you don’t have a stand up mixer, you can use a fork and spatula to mix the dough.
  3. Roll into balls or use a small cookie scoop and place onto the baking sheet. These cookies will spread out some, so be sure to space them out.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. ENJOY!
  5. Best stored in cookie tins or a cookie jar to maintain the crispiness.

One-Bowl AIP Sugar Cookies

One-Bowl AIP Sugar Cookies

Thanks for stopping by!

Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding

Are you tired of pumpkin recipes? Not yet? Good! Because I have an insanely easy recipe for you today. I almost didn’t share it because it is so easy and tapioca pudding isn’t anything new, but my family enjoys this so much that I decided to type up a little post for it.

I meant to share this earlier in the week, but I got wrapped up in the WORLD SERIES!!!! What an amazing Game 7! We are over the moon that the Cubs did it!!! 

But back to this recipe…

When I created this, I thought it looked a little naked. Like it needed something to go with it. I brainstormed AIP friendly sauces and toppings, but none of them seemed exciting. Then my friend, Natalie, over at Feasting on Fruit, posted her recipe for a Date Caramel Sauce and I knew instantly that I found what I was looking for! PERFECT match! If you’re not following an AIP diet, you could top it with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and/or chocolate chips. You’ll see a photo below with some chocolate chips sprinkled on top…that would be Willow’s handy work 😉

My family and I prefer eating this pudding warm, right off the stove with a little caramel sauce swirled in. 

Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding
PUMPKIN TAPIOCA PUDDING 

{AIP, oil-free, vegan}

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1/3 cup small tapioca pearls
  • 1 cup filtered water*
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)*
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin purée 
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Dash of ginger powder
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt
  • Optional: vanilla bean powder (or extract) or ground cardamom.

* For an even creamier option, use coconut milk instead of water. I use Trader Joe’s organic canned coconut as it doesn’t contain any gums/thickeners. I don’t recommend using lite coconut milk.

How to:

  1. In a small pot, combine the tapioca pearls and water. Allow to soak for at least an hour.
  2. Do not drain the water – add the remaining ingredients (except if you’re using vanilla extract) to the pot and heat over medium, stirring frequently.
  3. Once the mixture begins to lightly boil, reduce the heat to low-med and continue to cook until the pearls are translucent, stirring often. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Once the pearls are translucent and the mixture has thickened, remove from heat. At this time, you can add in vanilla extract.
  5. You can eat this warm or cold. It will thicken even more once chilled in the fridge.
  6. Top it with extra cinnamon, a sprinkle of coconut sugar, chocolate chips, cardamom, coconut whipped cream, or our favorite…Natalie’s Caramel Sauce!! 

Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding
Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding
Thanks for stopping by!

❤️

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

Hello, friends! Before I dive into this recipe, I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for all of the supportive comments on my previous post – means so much to me. I was shocked at how well it was received and even more shocked to learn how many others are in the same boat. Your emails and text messages have helped me to feel less alone and hopeful. I’m sending so much love and healing energy to all of you ❤️

If you read my last post, you know that I’ve made some changes in my diet to reset my system and I’ve had amazing results – more energy, no bloating, pain-free, positive mood changes, clothes fitting better, and hopeful. When I was first introduced to the Autoimmune Protocol, I focused too much on the foods I’d have to avoid, rather than looking at the lengthy list of foods I could eat – it’s all about perspective, right?

Since going vegan almost ten years ago, I’ve consumed nuts & seeds on a daily basis. Heck, almost at every meal if I think about it: nut milk in my smoothies, nuts in granola, cashews to make a creamy sauce or soup, nut or seed butters on toast, in smoothies, in baked goods. The list could go on. Nuts & seeds are in A LOT of vegan products.

Same goes for grains. They’re in our cereals, granola, pancakes, and baked goods. But we also cook them up to go with our lunch or dinner – rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat…well, you get the idea.

My body hasn’t ever had a break from nuts, seeds, and grains – I’m 37 years old – so that’s many days of consuming these foods. I’ve been without nuts and seeds for over two weeks now and without grains, beans, and nightshades for over a week…I’m honestly shocked at how much better I feel. With the AIP diet, they say to do it for 30 days to reset your system – I’m not sure I will go that long since I don’t think I’m getting enough protein (might add beans back in next week) – it’s a harder diet to follow as a vegan.

Eating this way has forced me to get creative, but also reigniting my love for the simple meals…my current favorite dinner is baked yams with sauteed kale, onions, garlic, zucchini, topped with coconut aminos and sliced avocado…gimme those greens! I’ve also fallen in love with these Coconut Paleo Wraps – on the pricey side, so they’re a treat for me. You can find them at pretty much an natural food store or online, but I have found that Whole Foods sells them for the best price. I love using them for both savory (veggie wraps) and sweet (apple crepes) recipes. Oh! And all I can say is coconut butter never tasted so good – now that all of my other nut/seed butters are out – coconut butter is like gold to me! Haha!

*If anyone is interested, I’d be happy to do a post sharing what I eat in a day following this protocol.

If your weather is anything like ours, you’re probably still enjoying smoothies and nice cream without shivering under a blanket just yet 😉 I think this recipe borders on nice cream due to its thickness, but I’m calling it a smoothie bowl since it has a sneaky little veggie in there!

Ahhh, golden beets! Have you tried them? Are you a beet lover? If you’re not a beet fan, golden beets are a lot less “earthy” and overpowering than the vibrant red beets and they also have a perfect sweetness to them. I also love golden beets for their bright, sunshine-y yellow color! I’ve brightened the color even more with some fresh turmeric and mango. My first instinct is to grab the bottle of homemade almond milk, but since I’m not consuming nuts right now, I’ve been using coconut milk, which also gives it a nice tropical twist!

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl
Sunshine Smoothie Bowl {vegan, AIP-friendly, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free}

Serves 1-2

What you need:

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 cup fresh golden beets, peeled + chopped*
  • 1/2-1 inch chunk of fresh turmeric
  • 2 Tablespoons raw coconut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional; if following AIP do not use extract)
  • coconut milk to blend*

*I have made this with an additional 1/4 cup of beets and it’s still delicious! Just depends on how much of a beet lover yo are. I use Trader Joe’s organic canned coconut milk as it is gum-free. I suggest starting with 1/4 cup, adding more if you’d like a thinner consistency. If you’re OK with gums, then any coconut milk will do…full fat will make it ultra creamy. 

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

How to:

  1. Blend until smooth, pour into a bowl, and enjoy! You can top it with fresh blueberries, dried mulberries, shredded coconut, cinnamon, or granola…or load it up with everything!

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl

RECIPE: Sunshine Smoothie Bowl 

Can’t believe this is the last official week of summer! Are you excited for fall?!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

RECIPE: Spirulina Bites

These little bites are packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals which makes them the perfect snack for a picky eater or a quick boost after a workout!

RECIPE: Spirulina Bites

Spirulina is one of our top superfoods that we always have stocked in our pantry as it contains an abundance of nutrients. Here’s the label from our Spirulina Pacifica bottle (we buy ours via Amazon):

SP_SFP_Pwd_16oz

Willow and I threw this together a couple of weeks ago and she couldn’t stop eating it right out of the food processor. She enjoys them rolled in coconut or finely chopped dark chocolate.

RECIPE: Spirulina Bites

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SPIRULINA BITES: {raw, gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free, vegan}

Makes 16 bites

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup raw tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds (ground or whole)*
  • 1 Tablespoon spirulina
  • 1 Tablespoon raw protein powder (optional)**
  • shredded coconut, cacao nibs, cacao powder, and/or chopped dark chocolate for rolling (optional)

*I occasionally grind my chia seeds in my nut/spice grinder to create a smoother bite, but it’s not necessary. Keeping them whole will give these bites a little crunch.

**I used Raw Power! Protein Superfood Vanilla and purchase it via The Raw Food World. I like this brand as it uses only superfoods, no fillers, gums, added sugar or sweeteners.

How to:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor; process until your desired consistency. If you like a chunkier bite, pulse it just enough to get the dates broken apart and ingredients combined. Run it longer for a smoother consistency.
  2. Roll into balls (approximately the size of a tablespoon) and roll in optional coconut, cacao, cacao nibs or chopped dark chocolate. Please note that the coconut butter will initially make these a bit oily, but this will change once the bites have had a chance to set.
  3. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and let them set in the freezer for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Enjoy! Best if stored in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

RECIPE: Spirulina Bites

RECIPE: Spirulina Bites

*For the ones rolled in chocolate, I used Equal Exchange Organic (Fair Trade) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and chopped them up. I purchased them on sale at Whole Foods and love that there’s only three ingredients. They’re vegan and soy-free.

Thanks for stopping by!