Homemade Hemp Milk Hot Cocoa

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According to last month’s issue of Outside Magazine, among the many alternatives to cow’s milk, hemp milk tops the charts as the best dairy-free, plant-based alternative. Hemp milk is loaded with heart-healthy omega-3s, athletic performance-enhancing magnesium, disease-fighting beta-carotene, and brain-boosting iron. It’s also the only non-dairy alternative that can be considered a complete protein as it has all 9 essential amino acids. The runners’ up are almond, soy and coconut milk, which each have their own pros and cons. In my humble opinion, if you can get down with the sometimes slightly bitter taste of hemp milk then that is where it’s at, nutritionally speaking.

Lucky for you I have here a homemade hemp milk recipe, naturally sweetened with dates and made more palatable by a touch of vanilla extract (bye-bye bitter). As a holiday bonus, I’ve also included a recipe for Homemade Hemp Milk Hot Cocoa, featuring my new favorite low-glycemic index sugar alternative–raw coconut sugar–which I gushed over in my post on Pumpkin Power Cookies earlier this month.

Homemade Hemp Milk

Homemade Hemp Milk

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup hemp seeds
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 medjool dates
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
How to Make It:
  1. Add all ingredients to a powerful blender and mix on high until smooth.
  2. Optional: strain mixture with cheesecloth to remove any clumps if you want your homemade batches to be smooth not pulpy like the store-bought kind.

Hemp Milk Hot Cocoa

Homemade Hemp Milk Hot Cocoa

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought vanilla hemp milk
  • 2 tbs (heaping) raw cacao powder
  • 2 tbs raw coconut sugar
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne

How to Make It:

  1. Heat hemp milk over medium heat to just under a boil.
  2. Remove from stove and add heated hemp milk with all the other ingredients to your blender and blend for a minute, or until smooth.

Serve hot with a side of my Pumpkin Power Cookies or Sweetly Salted Nut Butter Power Cookies for a healthy and festive afternoon snack.

Pumpkin Spice Bread for your Meatless Monday (DF)

If you missed my last Meatless Monday post for Vegan Pumpkin Soup, then you also likely missed me gushing over this fall gourd’s health benefits. Pumpkins get their orange hue from beta carotene which your body converts into vitamin A–essential for good eye sight and a healthy heart–as well as disease fighting vitamin K and powerful antioxidants. Like last week, the recipe I’ve created for you today uses canned organic pumpkin. According to  Greatist, one cup of  the canned stuff has 7g of fiber and 3g of protein—that’s more than two times the fiber and 50% more protein than pulling it fresh from the pumpkin patch. Mixing in a hearty portion of raw pumpkin seeds will add a powerful dose of essential minerals including zinc, potassium and magnesium—great for muscle recovery and healthy bones, hair and skin!


I don’t have to tell you how tasty Pumpkin Bread is, but mine amps up the health factor without compromising on texture and flavor. I made some simple swaps, including coconut oil and apple sauce instead of butter, to make it dairy-free and more figure-friendly. The result is a moist, seasonal bread that can be treated like dessert or a special breakfast treat.


What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raw cane or coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup liquid coconut oil
  • 4 oz apple sauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cans (15-oz each) pureed organic pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the flours, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
  3. In your mixer’s bowl, beat together the sugar, molasses, coconut oil, apple sauce, eggs, and vanilla. Add the pureed pumpkin and mix until combined. Lastly, add the dry ingredients a little at a time, whipping until smooth.
  4. Fold in the toasted pumpkin seeds by hand then transfer the contents into a non- stick 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan and 4 small ramekins or 12 cup cupcake pan, filling two-thirds of the way in whichever pan(s) you choose. If your pan is not non- stick coat it with butter and flour.
  5. Bake for 1 h 20 min, at which point a toothpick stuck into the middle of the loaf should come out clean. Let cool for at least 20 min before slicing. If you went with muffin tins, up the temperature to 325 F and bake for only 35 min (the same clean toothpick test applies).

Vegan Pumpkin Soup for your Meatless Monday (GF)

‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread (recipe to come), pumpkin smoothies (recipe to come) and, my personal favorite, pumpkin soup!  As iconic a fall staple as apple-picking and Halloween, pumpkins and pumpkin products are abundant this time of year. The orange gourds are packed with beta carotene which your body converts into vitamin A–essential for good eye sight and a healthy heart–as well as disease fighting vitamin K and powerful antioxidants. Pumpkin can definitely be deemed a superfood.

The recipe I’ve created for you today uses canned organic pumpkin. Chances are some of you out there may experience a certain skepticism for anything that comes out of a can. Before you throw the fresh-food-is-better book at this one consider this: according to  Greatist, one cup of  the canned stuff has 7g of fiber and 3g of protein—that’s more than two times the fiber and 50% more protein than pulling it fresh from the pumpkin patch. Topping this semi-sweet soup with a sprinkle of raw pumpkin seeds will add a powerful dose of essential minerals including zinc, potassium and magnesium.

I’ll have more pumpkin-perfect recipes later this month, so stock up on your canned pumpkin and spices now!


What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 – 15oz cans organic pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp smoked chipotle chile flakes
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

How to Make It:

  1. In a large pot or casserole dish, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic (both coarsely chopped) and sauté until translucent (about 5-7 min). Add spices and cook another minute.
  2. Add 3 cups of vegetable stock and bring mixture up to a simmer.
  3. Add two cans of pumpkin purée and maple syrup, stirring to combine.
  4. Remove mixture from heat and pour it into a blender. Blend until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add blended soup back to your pot and mix in one cup of coconut milk. Taste for seasoning and adjust according to taste. (Note: if you want to thin this out, add another cup of vegetable stock at this point).
  6. Bring mix back to a simmer and serve immediately, or remove it from the heat, let cool, and store in your fridge for up to a week (or 1-2 months in your freezer).
  7. Serve with a spoonful of the optional coconut milk/tahini blend (whisk together the tahini and coconut milk until smooth) and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds for a little more flavor and texture.

Vegan Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

Soups are normally a fall and winter staple in my diet, but having recently purchased a Vitamix I couldn’t help but try out one of my favorite recipes in my new toy. This recipe incorporates nutrient-dense carrots and sweet potatoes. These orange superstars contain alpha carotene, which protects against cancer, and beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A and helps prevent age-related macular degeneration. Almost all orange whole fruits and veggies may also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is great news for all my runners and high-intesity athletes out there whose fitness takes a toll on their joints. Best of all, this recipe is incredibly easy to make and economical.

Vegan Carrot & Sweet Potato Soup

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What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 lb carrots, chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Jamaican All-Spice
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (double down if you like it spicy)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 carton (or 32 oz) organic vegetable stock (low sodium)

How to Make It:

  1. Heat oil in a large (5-6 qt) saucepan over medium heat. Add onions sautéing 5-7 min or until tender and translucent.
  2. Add garlic, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne and salt and pepper, cooking for another 2-3 min.
  3. Add sweet potatoes and carrot.
  4. Add vegetable stock, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 15 min. The potatoes and carrots should be easy to pierce and pick up with a fork but not falling apart.
  5. Finally, use a standing or hand blender to purée the mixture in your saucepan until smooth.
  6. Adjust your seasoning for spice and saltiness. Serve hot and enjoy!

I poured this mixture into canning jars making it an easily transportable lunch for the office. Pair it with a side salad or some roasted veggies for a delicious, gluten- and dairy-free midday meal.

Honey Ginger Carrots and Kale

Carrots and kale deliver a one-two nutritional punch packed with anti-inflammatory properties and potent antioxidants. Inflammation is at the root of much that harms and hurts us as we age, affecting everything from the skin and joints to  our cardiovascular health and risk of disease. Antioxidants are crucial internal warriors, fighting of damaging free radicals at the cellular level. Both veggies feature high concentrations of Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, important for safeguarding those peepers, and Vitamin K, essential for bone health and blood clotting. Kale is also an excellent plant source of calcium, which is especially crucial for us ladies out there as we age.

This recipe makes for a great side dish to any meal. I served it alongside black rice cooked in green teach (antioxidant obsessed much?) and homemade, slow-cooker BBQ pork ribs.

Honey Ginger Carrots and Kale


What You’ll Need:

  • 4 cups kale, chopped (thicker stems removed)
  • 2 cups baby carrots, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbs raw honey
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds

How to Make It:

  1. In a large skillet, melt oils with honey over low heat. Stir in grated ginger and lemon juice.
  2. Stir in carrots and toss to coat. Increase heat to medium and cook 5 min until heated through.
  3. Add kale and cook another 5-7 min, covered and stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender but still bright and al dente.
  4. Add sesame seeds and remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Avoid the Travel Trap & Pack Your Snacks

If you have a job like mine where you travel regularly, it can be hard to maintain a healthy diet when it comes time to hit the road (or skies). You no longer have the guarantee of a refrigerator to store fresh food, a good grocery store to purchase fruits and veggies, or a stove to prepare your own meals. Most of the time you will be forced to eat out and make the best choices possible. One way to avoid ordering a massive meal every time you sit down is to bring along your own snacks. Keeping tasty and nutritious snacks on hand will help keep you satisfied in between meals so you don’t become blinded by hunger, throwing your normally healthy habits out the door. Below are some of my favorite snacks to pick up before a long plane ride (such as the one I’m on as you’re reading this) or a day of racing around to different meetings with no time for a break.


To honor spring and healthy, beautiful skin, I packed these tasty detoxifying snacks:

1. Pepitas: Also known as pumpkin seeds, pepitas are one of my go-tos for skin detox. Pumpkin seeds are packed with the beautifying mineral, zinc, and essential fatty acids including omegas 3, 6, and 9. They also help reduce inflammation in the body.

Go for the raw, unsalted variety to get all the benefits without any added down-sides.

2. Edamame Hummus w/ Baby Carrots and Radishes: Baby Carrots are plentiful in skin-beautifying Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Vitamin A is found in many skin creams and treatments in the form of retinol, but ingesting it is still the best way to get that glow from the inside out.  Radishes are high in sulfur, silicon, and Vitamin C, which work together to boost collagen, strengthen skin, and stimulate the circulatory system. And Edamame Hummus from Trader Joe’s? Well that’s just darn tasty.

3. KIND Bars: I love KIND Bars because they are gluten-free, and most varieties are also wheat- and dairy-free. They are non-GMO, have simple and natural ingredients, and boast at least 5g of dietary fiber (approximately 20% of your RDA). They are delicious and more satisfying than chalky protein bars with a million ingredients.

So before your next trip, stock up on the good stuff and arrive at your destination feeling a heck of a lot better than if you’d gone for that blueberry muffin or five-dollar foot-long.