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

Pumpkin Spice Granola

I really thought my pumpkin obsession had subsided after eating one too many pumpkin-shaped Reese’s peanut butter cups on Halloween. I was truly convinced I’d moved on following my back-to-back pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin smoothie recipes. I was cured of my fixation–was until I caved and had an almond milk PSL (that’s a pumpkin spice latte for those of you haven’t been to a coffee shop in the last 6 weeks) this weekend. The flame was reignited and the inspiration instantly came to me–I would create my very own PSG (that’s Pumpkin Spice Granola), which it turns out was even better than that PSL.

image (1)

You’ve heard me rave about the nutritional powerhouse that is pumpkin, so I won’t inundate you with all those fun facts again. Okay well maybe just one sentence to reenforce this gorgeous gourd’s health profile. Pumpkin is packed with fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and a few grams of plant protein, and at only 50 calories per serving is a perfect balance to all that Halloween candy you’ve been eating (guilty as charged).

Without further ado, it’s PSG time!


Pumpkin Spice Granola

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (liquid or melted)
  • 3/4 cup (or half a 15 ounce can) pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 inch ground fresh ginger
  • Optional: 1 cup dried blueberries, chopped dates or tart cherries

How to Make It:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats and raw pumpkin seeds.
  3. In a blender, blend together the coconut oil, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves until smooth.
  4. Pour blender mixture over your dry ingredients and stir until evenly coated
  5. Spread the mixture on a lipped baking sheet, pressing it down to evenly cover all the way to the edges.
  6. Bake for 1 hour, gently turning the granola with a spatula every 15 minutes. Flip in sections so that you’re sure to keep some tasty clumps. Also make sure you move some of the granola from the edges to the middle and from the middle to the edges about halfway through cooking so that it cooks evenly.
  7. After an hour, turn the oven down to 300°F and cook another 15 -25 minutes. You’ll know it is done when it is dry to the touch and piece left to cool on the counter turns crispy. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  8. If you’re adding dried blueberries or cherries, stir them in while the mix is still cooling.
  9. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

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.