Maple-Apple Cake Donuts

Sure, pumpkin anything is bringing sexy back this fall (and all the falls) but apples have been an autumnal all-star far longer. We could do a comparison table here showcasing everything you can do with apples versus pumpkin and I bet these two tasty ingredients would be neck-and-neck, but that is too much formatting and work for me to handle before my next yoga class (truth be told). So instead, I’m going to tell you about how I turned this delicious Pumpkin Cake Donut recipe from King Arthur Flour into a Maple-Apple Cake Donut using apples I picked from my local Waters Orchard.

Growing up in Massachusetts, my favorite donuts were those powdered cake donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts which inevitably left more sugary dust on your chin and clothes than made it into your mouth. I loved the fluffy texture and sweet remnants you got to lick off your lips after the treat was done. As a nutrition coach, I tend not to eat or recommend too many donuts these days but if you’re going to do it, do it good.

The following Maple-Apple Cake Donut recipe was inspired by sweet apples and a small jar of granulated maple sugar from my parents up in New England. The ingredients did the talking, King Arthur helped me with the baseline, and my creative mind made swaps to cut back on added sugar and fuse these fluffy Os with fall flavor.

Maple-Apple Cake Donuts


Makes 12 donuts


  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 stick of butter (or 1/4 cup), melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups 15-minutes homemade apple sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 ts ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, level
  • Granulated maple sugar for dusting



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two donut pans
  2. In a large mixer, use the flat beater attachment to combine the oil, butter, eggs, sugars, maple syrup, apple sauce, spices, salt, and baking powder until smooth. (You can also do this by hand with a little elbow grease and a whisk). 
  3. Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.
  4. Fill the wells of the donut pans about  to the top but be careful they don’t overflow.
  5. Bake for ~18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. 
  6. Remove from the oven, let cool a few minutes, loosen the edges (if need be) with a butter knife, and gently flip onto a rack to cool. 
  7. While the doughnuts are still warm generously dust them with granulated maple sugar (or cinnamon sugar).
  8. Let cool completely and store at room temperature for several days. I like to place them on a plate, stick them with toothpicks, and tent them with plastic wrap so they have room to breath.




  • 2 extra large or 3 large apples – peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon



  1. In a medium microwavable mixing bowl, combine prepped apples with sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Microwave for 3 minutes, stir, and microwave again another 3-4 minutes until apples are soft (not mushy) when pricked with a fork.
  3. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blender until mostly smooth (any little chunks will taste delicious when you bite into them).


Perfect Pork Chops

It’s getting chilly out and there is no better time to warm up with some home-cooked goodness than this sweater weather time of year. One of my favorite, grounding and nourishing dishes is seared pork chops. Pork chops are lean, delicious, easy to make, and go perfectly with all that homemade apple sauce you now have from the fall harvest. Bonus: if you have a pup, give them the bone when you’re done. They’ll love you forever (though I’m sure they already do).


Here’s a simple, hard-to-screw-up recipe perfect for a cozy night in. Pair with roasted root vegetables and a simple sample for a healthy meal that won’t break the bank.


Serves 2

– Two 4-6oz pork chops
– Sea salt and pepper to taste
– Olive oil for cooking

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Bring chops to room temp, pat dry and season on both sides with sea salt and pepper.
2. Pre-heat a heavy (oven safe) skillet over a medium-high flame. When hot enough a drop of water hitting the pan will hiss and steam.
3. Add 1-2 tsp olive oil and immediately add chops. Cook for 1 minute on the first side, flip and cook for 2 minutes on the second.
4. Transfer whole pan to oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.
5. Remove and let rest for at least 5 minutes on a plate or cutting board. Slice serve whole.

Chilled Spinach Detox Soup for your Meatless Monday

Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, conflicted omnivore or ardent carnivore, it doesn’t hurt to give yourself at least one day each week where you focus on a plant-based diet. I love the Meatless Monday movement for this very reason. It’s approachable, non-preachy and good common sense. I’m completely inconsistent with my posts to this end and am way overdue in offering a new recipe for you all.

As some of you know, I am a big believer in whole foods, home cooking-focused detoxes. I’ve guided over 100 different folks from all over the country through my seasonal detoxes over the course of the last two years and really enjoy coming up with meals that are simple, tasty and clean. My latest 4-day detox includes the following recipe. If you want to buy the self-guided version it’s now available through my online store.


I love picking up ingredients for this and all detox recipes from my local farmers market. Food is always better – both in taste and nutrient density – when locally grown with less transport and shelf time.


Chilled Spinach Detox Soup

{makes 4 side portions or 2 mains}


  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs organic unsalted butter
  • 2 small sweet onions (the size of baseballs)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp muchi curry powder
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Top with a couple tablespoons of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt


  1. Sauté onions in butter and oil over medium heat until soft, adding a generous pinch of salt as you stir.
  2. Add curry powder and garlic. Sauté another minute until fragrant.
  3. Add stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and thyme and simmer another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Blend until smooth.
  6. Served hot or chilled and garnish with yogurt and ground black pepper. Stir well and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Spice Smoothie

Happy October! This month is characterized by crisp air, cooling temps, changing colors and happy hearts. It also marks the beginning of peak apple picking season and, lest we forget, pumpkin spice everything!

Always a bit of a rebel, I’m skipping the pumpkin patch and going tuber on all of you who are craving fall flavors and sweet treats but hoping to stay as healthy as possible before the holidays set in. Sweet potatoes, my favorite tuber, are a root vegetable which swells underground to store more nutrients to survive the cold, dry winter months and to provide energy for regrowth. Sweet potatoes literally swell with nutrients like beta-carotene which the body converts into vitamin A (retinol) and give these tubers their orange hue. We need vitamin A for healthy skin and eyes and to reinforce our immune system. Sweet potatoes are also loaded with vitamin C–a boost we all need this flu season–and several B vitamins.

Go on now, put down the pumpkin spice latte and try this fun Sweet Potato Spice Smoothie, bursting with fall flavors and the fuel you need to fortify your body before hibernation season hits.

Sweet Potato Spice Smoothie_MOARfit by Amy Rizzotto

Sweet Potato Spice Smoothie

{serves 2}

What You’ll Need:

  • ¾ cup sweet potato purée (canned)
  • ¼ cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 8 oz unsweetened almond milk (or use hemp, coconut or rice milk)
  • 4 oz apple cider
  • 1 Tbs maple syrup (optional)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp (or “a dash”) ground cloves
  • 1” fresh ginger, peeled
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract
  • ½ cup ice
  • 2 Tbs chia seeds

How to Make It:

  • Blend all ingredients except the chia seeds in a high speed blender until smooth.
  • Add more ice to thicken, or almond milk to thin out as desired.
  • Split into two portions and stir one tablespoon of chia seeds into each glass.

If you love this, try using the more conventional smoothie ingredient, pumpkin purée, or the less conventional but still delicious ingredient, butternut squash purée, instead. It’ll change the taste a touch but still be packed with immunity-boosting vitamins A and C. Bon apetit!


{Originally published on the Relay Foods blog, October 19, 2014.}

Pumpkin Power Cookies (V) (GF)

With December upon us pumpkin fever will soon be coming to an end. Well, I don’t know about you but I’m not ready for that yet. In an attempt to keep my pumpkin love affair going until the well runs dry, I’ve got yet another pumpkin-themed recipe for you.

This recipe for Pumpkin Power Cookies is vegan, gluten-free and low on the glycemic index thanks to the wonders of coconut palm sugar, the latest sugar alternative to hit grocery stores. Made from the crystallized sap of coconut palm trees, this natural sweetener contains potassium, iron and vitamins and may help stabilize blood pressure and regulate spikes in blood sugar. Best of all, it can be used 1:1 to replace the sugar a recipe calls for and even acts like sugar in baking (meaning it creams well with butter and all that jazz).

I’ve raved about the benefits of pumpkin (fiber + vitamins A/C) before but it’s been a while since I’ve used this soapbox for a good old-fashioned dark chocolate speech. Here goes…

I used very dark chocolate (100% cacao) in this recipe. It’s not sweet and it’s not for everyone. Whether you go the vegan chocolate route or choose to opt for something a little milder (say 70-85% cacao), quality dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. It is also choc-full (I couldn’t resist) of antioxidants. Studies show that this dark beauty may even help lower bad LDL cholesterol, protect you from sun damage and lower blood pressure.

These cookies will not only satisfy your sweet tooth but are also a great pre-workout snack with 14g of gluten-free carbs to fuel your fire, heart-healthy fats and a few grams of protein (which you don’t want much of pre-workout anyway). At only 110 calories a pop, try munching on two 2-3 hours before your next workout and feel the pumpkin power!

Pumpkin Power Cookies

Pumpkin Power Cookies

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¾ cup organic pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • ½ tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-oz very dark chocolate (70-100%), coarsely chopped or chips
  • ¼ cup pecan pieces (optional)
  • ¼ cup cup dried tart cherries (optional)
  • ¼ cup  unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)

How to Make Them:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine rice flour, oats, baking soda, sea salt and spice.
  3. In another mixing bowl (preferably that of a standing mixer), combine pumpkin, sugar, coconut oil, flaxseed and vanilla.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients (2) to wet (3) and mix on medium speed (or with a brisk whisk) until combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chunks and any of the optional ingredients until evenly distributed throughout.
  6. Drop rounded tablespoons onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Flatten each mound slightly with a spoon or fork, leaving about 1 inch between each cookie.
  7. Bake for 14-16 minutes.
  8. Move cookies to a wire rack and cool completely (otherwise the might fall apart).

Yields 20 cookies.

Nutrition Info: 

With all the fixings – 110 calories; 6g fat; 2g protein;  14g carbs

Without the optional ingredients – 88 calories; 4g fat; 1g protein; 12g carbs

Source: Self Nutrition Data

Lemon Ginger Apple Butter for your Meatless Monday (GF) (V)

As the saying goes, an apple a day keep’s the doctor away. The old adage is more than just a common cultural phrase, it’s a health claim backed by science. According to one of my favorite NYT columns, Well, consuming apples is linked to a decreased risk of stroke. Apples are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which may be effective for those with high blood pressure. Like other colorful fruits, apples contain a number of antioxidants and  phytonutrients, including the flavonol quercetin, which has been associated with reducing inflammation in the body.
Bitten Apple
The best part about apples, in my opinion, is that unlike berries and (my personal favorite) pomegranate seeds, they are relatively inexpensive. And at this time of year, it’s easy to source them locally–or better yet, pick your own!
After a recent trip to Stribling Orchard in Markham, VA I was left with a bounty of apples in need of a purpose. Since my slow-cooker is my chosen culinary best friend this fall, I decided to give apple butter a whirl. The result is a deliciously lemon-ginger spiked treat, perfect atop your Sunday morning pancakes or cup of plain yogurt.

Lemon-Ginger Apple Butter 

What You’ll Need:

8-10 medium to large apples

zest of one lemon

juice of one lemon

1 inch grated fresh ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 cup Demarra cane sugar

How to Make It:
1. Wash and core apples, then rough chop them (leaving skin on).
2. Fill a 5 quart slow-cooker with your apples then toss together with lemon, zest, spices and sugar.
3. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours.
4. Blend the cooked apples until smooth with a hand blender or in a food processor.
5. Let cool then serve immediately or give canning a try to preserve your pickings all winter long.

Pumpkin Apricot Smoothie (GF)

No, you haven’t lost your mind, week 3 of my Meatless Monday Pumpkin Puree series is a week late—but I assure you, this one was worth the wait. Week 1 featured a healthy and hearty Vegan Pumpkin Soup, ideal for a quick lunch or comforting yet light dinner. Week 2 skipped straight to dessert with a sweet and satisfying dairy-free Pumpkin Bread. This time around, I’m helping you start your day out right with a protein and probiotic-packed Pumpkin Smoothie recipe that will please your palette and keep you full until the mid-morning snack or possibly even lunch. If you want to learn more about pumpkin puree’s superfood properties, refer to weeks 1 and 2. The key to this smoothie’s satiating power is Greek yogurt, which not only helps soothe tummy troubles with its probiotics but also boasts 22g of muscle-maintaining protein per 8-oz serving. The fiber found in the dried apricot and chia seeds called for by this recipe will also keep you full and help regulate your digestive system.


This recipe is intended for two, but if you’re a morning workout warrior drink the whole batch for optimal muscle repair and calorie replenishment. It’s quick, easy, healthy and seasonal so slurp it up while fall’s in full swing.


What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla bean (scraped)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 banana (frozen)
  • 1/4 cup apricots (soaked for 5 min hot water)
  • 2 dates (pitted)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 6 oz nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 2 tbs chia seeds

How to Make It:

  • Blend all ingredients except chia seeds together in your blender until smooth. Stir chia seeds in at the end, one tablespoon per serving (or both if you’re using this as a post-workout recovery fuel).

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.

Lentil, Barley, and Kale Soup (Meatless Monday)

Lentils, a member of the legume family, should be a staple in everyone’s cupboard–especially for you vegans and vegetarians. These little earthy pillows are an excellent source of plant-based protein and have a lot of the vitamins and minerals that meat-abstainers often miss in their diet. A one-cup serving of lentils has only 230 calories, 16g of dietary fiber, 18g of protein, and 37% of the recommended daily intake for iron. This high soluble fiber content helps lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.


Beyond the vast health benefits, lentils are cheap, easy to cook, and store forever. If you’re at a loss for what to do with them (aside from this recipe), check out the New York Times’ Martha Rose Shulman for some great ideas .


Lentil, Barley, and Kale Soup

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tbs vegan buttery spread (I like Earth Balance’s Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup French lentils
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus 4 long strips of the peel
  • 2 1/2 cartons of reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese if you opting for a non-vegan version)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill

How to Make It:

  1. Add buttery spread (or real butter if you aren’t vegan), olive oil, onions and a pinch of salt to a slow-cooker and cover on high for 45min.
  2. Add garlic, turmeric, pepper, cayenne, and toasted sesame seeds (crushing them between your fingers as you sprinkle them in) and cook for another 15min on high.
  3. Add lentils, pearled barley, broth, lemon juice and strips of peel (you’ll remove these at the end).
  4. Layer 3 cups of chopped kale on top but don’t mix it in. Cover and turn to Low for 3-5 more hours.
  5. Turn off your slow-cooker. Remove lemon peels and adjust for seasoning to taste. Stop here if you plan to freeze half and save for later.
  6. When you are ready to serve, add nutritional yeast (or parmesan) and fresh dill to taste.

Serve this with a slice of my Saffron Fennel Bread for a hearty weeknight supper or an easy-to-pack work lunch.