Happy Fall y’all! Although, it hasn’t really felt like it with some of these unseasonably warm days. But, I think the colder weather is here to stay now. So that’s probably why I’m just now getting into the Fall spirit.

scarecrow painting

Last night, the bae and I went to a painting class (Paint the Town in CoMO) and we made these scarecrows and painted on wood instead of canvas! It was different and a little more difficult to paint on, but I think they turned out super cute. Plus we had fun doing it! I have a tendency to be a little ‘Type A’ and I get a little stressed out when things don’t turn out the way I want them to. The last time we did a painting class like this with my mom, I tried to make it too perfect, or how I thought it should be, and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, so I got a little stressed out… BUT, this time I kept my cool and didn’t try to add a lot of extras, I kept it simple, and I was MUCH happier with the outcome.

So! With Fall already upon us, and Thanksgiving and the holidays quickly approaching, pumpkin-everything is everywhere! It’s hard not to indulge, especially around this time of the year. We’re all cozied-up in our sweatpants and fluffy sweaters, and we want our food to be just as warm and comforting.

Unfortunately, so many of those “comfort foods” are also super high in sugar and refined/processed grains. Fun fact: the combination of sugar, fat, and salt, are the three things, that when combined together (especially in high amounts), actually trigger the reward centers in our brain and make us CRAVE MORE of these types of foods. That’s why we crave things like potato chips, cookies, muffins, pizza, etc. and we don’t tend to crave things like spinach, apples, lentils, etc.  So basically, if we don’t have those highly processed foods in our diet, we actually don’t tend to crave them. But it’s all a matter of balance.

I know there are a million bazillion pumpkin recipes out there, but these two recipes from two (technically three) of my favorite RD food bloggers are healthy AND delicious. All the boys ate them and enjoyed them and didn’t even miss the white sugar and white flour. Keep in mind, these recipes are healthier alternatives, but they are still treats and should be treated as such!

The first one is by a fellow RD, Alexis Joseph, better known as hummusapien. She created these Paleo Pumpkin Bars:

paleo pumpkin bars

The second one is by a couple of dietitians known as the Real Food Dietitians. They created these Sweet Potato Banana Nut Muffins (I actually subbed pumpkin for sweet potato, though):

pumpkin banana nut muffins

Both of these turned out super delicious! Part of the reason I chose these recipes initially was because I had some bananas that were turning REAL brown and needed to be used (I hate to waste food). But they both turned out super soft, maintained their moisture and didn’t dry out, and are pretty customizable. The second recipe I actually made twice:  once with almond flour, almond butter and a chunk of banana in the middle; and the second time with coconut flour and chunky peanut butter. They both turned out delicious, of course. If you don’t eat them all within about a few days, I would suggest storing them in an air tight container or Ziploc bag in the refrigerator to maintain freshness and prevent molding.

Now, how many times do we make a recipe that calls for canned pumpkin and we’re left with half the can of pumpkin that we didn’t use? Here are a couple easy suggestions for using that extra pumpkin:

  • Add it to a smoothie: combine ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or preferred milk), 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, ½ cup canned pumpkin, handful of walnuts (or couple Tbsps of nut butter), 1 tsp. or so pumpkin pie spice/cinnamon, and a handful of ice. Blend and enjoy!
  • Add it to some overnight oats: combine ½ cup uncooked oats, ¼ cup canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, 1 Tbsp. chia/flax seeds, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, enough almond milk to cover. Mix together well and store in fridge overnight.
  • Make a pumpkin soup, like Dietitian Cassie’s Simple Pumpkin Soup.
  • Or you could just make a double batch of the recipe!

So, in a “nutchelle,” Fall is a great time to try out some new pumpkin recipes, but remember to choose recipes with real, simple ingredients and treat the sweets as a treat! Moderation is always the key.