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don't miss dairy

Emily Stokes
I'm a lady who loves cheese, sour cream, & ice cream, but I recently became lactose intolerant. My key focus in recreating dairy recipes is taste, but I try to be as health conscious as possible. Some of my recipes are low lactose rather than dairy free. I'm also a writer, teacher, nanny, dog mom, housewife, native Yinzer, current Californian, and social organizer extraordinaire.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie

Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie from dontmissdairy.com

For the past three Novembers, cooking for Thanksgiving has been very last minute and a lot harder. I was reluctant to even get into the holiday spirit until December 1st.

I’ll tell you why, and I’ll also tell you why this year is different. But first, the recipe to look forward to at the end of this post:

Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie from dontmissdairy.com

Have you ever heard of this little thing called NaNoWriMo? It’s short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s true, I am an aspiring novelist. I have been since I was in middle school, although practicality and life always got in the way of trying to achieve my dream.

Then I heard of this NaNoWriMo thing: a non-profit organization that challenges you to write an entire novel in November. 50,000 words that is. In thirty days.

The first year I heard of it I thought maybe I’d give it a shot. I toyed with the idea. I wrote down some stories that had been fighting for recognition in the back of my mind. 

But I never went through with it. Maybe I was just focused on other things. 

Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie from dontmissdairy.com

The year after that, 2012, I put my foot down. I was going to do it. But when I picked my story and sat down to write, I had a huge wake up call. Writing 50,000 words is hard. Writing them well is even harder. I had an embarrassing collection of 25,000 words by the end of the month.

But last year, that was when I finally did it. I wrote 50,000 words, adding to my previous attempt at the same story for a total of 78,000 words. I had written a novel. Check one box off the bucket list.

The problem was, it was absolutely horrible. I spent the next year going back to it again and again, editing and editing and trying to make it readable.

I don’t regret all this time spent editing. It was a major learning experience. Because this year when November came around, I found my writing to be majorly improved. 

Not only have I written 45,000 words before Thanksgiving, but I’ve also kept my apartment clean, gotten into the holiday spirit, and have even kept up a regular social schedule, along with posting blog entries and doing my day job. To be so much more improved has been a huge confidence booster. It is true that hard work pays off. 

I’m looking at a really great story right now, one that I am not reluctant to share unedited. One that I am in love with. And here I am comfortably posting another recipe, with Thanksgiving only days away. 

Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie from dontmissdairy.com

I just want to say to follow your dreams. It’s going to be hard. There are going to be things in the way. And maybe you won’t get it on the first go. But keep trying. Eventually, practice may not make perfect, but it will get you farther than you ever thought possible, even in your darkest moments of despair. Three years ago, writing a novel was a daunting task. But now? 50,000 words in a month? No biggie. I got this.

And just to prove it, here’s a deliciously thick and fluffy smoothie with a tart, creamy finish, made from the Thanksgiving dinner ingredients you already have in your kitchen, to help get you into the holiday spirit, too. 

Happy NaNoWriMo! Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie from dontmissdairy.com

Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie from dontmissdairy.com

Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie
Serves 1
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup raw cranberries, rinsed and drained
  2. 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  3. 1 cup vanilla soy milk
  4. 1/4 cup walnuts
  5. 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  6. dash allspice
  7. dash cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Sweeten with maple syrup to taste.
don't miss dairy http://dontmissdairy.com/
Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie from dontmissdairy.com

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No-Bake Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bites

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bites from dontmissdairy.com
Want to try something amazing? Trust me when I say, there is nothing healthy tasting about these incredible and incredibly healthy pumpkin pie bites.

My go-to pumpkin pie recipes have undergone many changes over the years, adapting to my dietary restrictions and taste preferences. But this year I thought I’d go all out and make a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan pumpkin pie. I did some research to see if this was possible.

It was very possible.

No-bake Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bites from dontmissdairy.com

The trick was what recipe to trust, choose, and how to adapt it. I found a lot of raw pie crust recipes made with dates, and, unfortunately, I am not the biggest fan of dates, so they are not a usual ingredient I buy. Not wanting to make a special trip to the store just for dates, I found a recipe on lunchbox.com for no-bake pumpkin walnut pie—date free—and decided to adapt it to fit the ingredients in my kitchen.

During my research I saw so many complicated no-bake raw crusts. They called for all kinds of nuts and ingredients. I just kept thinking about how simple a raw crust should be. I mean, anything can be crumbled and made into a crust! (It just needs to taste awesome)

So I simplified the crust into three ingredients, an idea I found on hacres.com: walnuts, maple syrup, and vanilla. It’s a treat in itself! It’s technically not raw, but there is no baking involved. I was eating this before I could turn it into a crust. I thought this combination would be pretty sticky, but it’s actually not. It’s smooth and buttery. Nevertheless, I still greased the bottoms of my mini cheesecake pan for easier removal.

Making three ingredient walnut pie crust from dontmissdairy.com.

This is what the crust should look like after processing.

No-bake walnut pie crust from dontmissdairy.com.

Pressed walnut crust in mini cheesecake pan.

I made these bites to try something different, and to serve individually at a party. I think this would work very well as a whole pie, and the measurements should be the same.

If you are making pumpkin pie bites versus a whole pie, keep in mind that these are very soft and delicate. Like whipped cream, these delicious, fluffy pie bites will start to soften as soon as they are taken out of the cold.

I did not wrap the bites in paper while making because I wanted to see how pretty they were. But I recommend making these in cupcake liners or individual serving cups unless you are very patient. I made mine in a mini cheesecake pan. I used a butter knife to loosen the pumpkin pie filling from the edges, then pushed them out from underneath very carefully.

To serve them unwrapped, place pumpkin pie bites on a chilled tray or individual plates for immediate serving. Since I was transporting mine, I placed them in tulip parchment liners, which unfold and fold back easily. These could also be frozen for an hour so they become easier to serve, and should have the consistency of ice cream.  Keep them in the freezer longer in an airtight container for frozen pumpkin treats.

No-bake Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bites from dontmissdairy.com

This is my pumpkin pie bite wrapped in a tulip parchment paper liner. Easy to serve, easy to eat!

For a thick, solid filling, use coconut oil and full fat coconut cream, which stiffens and solidifies upon chilling. Also, make sure you use walnuts for this recipe. The walnuts act as a thickening agent to keep the filling solid. They are also heart healthy!

Maple syrup is apparently healthy for you as well—in moderation. This recipe calls for a small amount of maple syrup, but it goes a long way! These pumpkin pie bites are perfectly sweetened. I served them at a Halloween party, and they were a big hit.

I love creating as many recipes I can that adapt to different dietary restrictions because, hey, I know how it feels.

No-bake Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bites from dontmissdairy.com

No-Bake Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bites
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For the Crust
  1. 2 cups raw walnuts
  2. 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  3. 1 tsp vanilla
For the Filling
  1. 1 can pumpkin (15oz)
  2. 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  3. 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  4. 1 cup full fat coconut cream (the solid part of the canned coconut milk that separates when chilled)
  5. 1/8 cup coconut oil, melted
  6. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  7. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  10. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
For Crust
  1. Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely crumbled. Add syrup and vanilla and pulse until ball forms.
For Filling
  1. Pulse 1/2 cup walnuts in food processor until finely crumbled. Add 4 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla, salt, and all spices then pulse until smooth.
  2. Add pumpkin 1/3 cup at a time to food processor and pulse until well combined.
  3. Transfer pumpkin mixture to medium bowl. Stir in 1 cup full fat coconut cream (leave the clear liquid behind in the can).
  4. At this time, taste and add more sweetener if desired.
  5. For the last step, add melted coconut oil and stir quickly. Once cool it will begin to solidify.
To Complete Pie Bites
  1. Brush 12 cup mini cheesecake pan bottoms with coconut oil or Smart Balance Light. Alternatively, use a 9 inch greased pie pan or paper lined cupcake tin.
  2. Press 3/4 tablespoon (about 2 teaspoons) of walnut mixture into bottom of mini pans to form crusts.
  3. Spoon filling evenly into crusts. There may be a tiny bit left over to snack on. Refrigerate for at least four hours to firm, then pop out of the tins and serve immediately. Filling will soften if not kept refrigerated.
don't miss dairy http://dontmissdairy.com/

No-bake Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bites from dontmissdairy.com

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Chili Lime Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Chili Lime Pumpkin Seeds from dontmissdairy.com

Besides parties and free candy, the best thing about Halloween is pumpkin carving!

We love pumpkins in our little family. Pumpkin everything! Even our picky Chihuahua, Mia, who won’t eat dog treats, loves pumpkin. Allow me to tell you a story.

Every year we attend the annual Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay, California. We just enjoyed our fourth Pumpkin Festival this weekend. Wow, how time flies!

We had an amazing time with our friends, indulging in pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin chili, and even pumpkin ale. We bought two awesome pumpkins at Bob’s Pumpkin Farm right along the coast (pictures below). We even got some homemade pumpkin rolls to take home. Here’s where the Chihuahua comes in.

Mia loves pumpkin. Whenever we carve our Halloween pumpkin she gets some of the slimy goopy orange innards. Mmm pumpkin innards—what a special treat.  We certainly have a weird dog. Though, apparently, pumpkin pastries are also desirable.

After waking up at 5am and driving down curvy mountainous roads on the trips to the Pumpkin Festival and back, this dog mom was feeling tired and a little car sick. I crashed and fell asleep as soon as I got home, leaving my bags on the floor. I woke up to a little Chihuahua enjoying a sweet pumpkiny treat all over my white carpet. She had found both pumpkin rolls in my partially opened backpack, took them both to her bed, chewed through the tightly wrapped cellophane, and feasted on little plastic covered bites.

It’s really my fault (and Eric’s, too) for leaving the bags on the floor and not watching the puppy. I’ve learned my lesson. The positive side? I guess I just have to make my own dairy free pumpkin roll. Consider it coming soon.

Though I was quite mad at my little puppy, I couldn’t stay mad for long. I know from experience that it’s super hard to resist pumpkin roll that’s right within your reach.  So when we carve our pumpkin, she’ll still get a taste.

While Mia gets the innards, the humans get the seeds. Those we save for roasting. It’s a very simple process to roast them in the oven with some oil and salt. On to the recipe.

Roasted chili lime pumpkin seeds from dontmissdairy.com

Plain roasted pumpkin seeds are a perfect munching snack, but it’s nice to spice them up sometimes. For our last batch of seeds we really did go spicy with a chili lime seasoning.

Chili and lime aren’t exactly fall themed seasonings, but we are loving this flavor combination right now. We use it on our stove top popcorn as well! Plus, the chili powder and cayenne pepper give your roasted seeds a beautiful autumn color,  and they are so flavorful.

Use the chili powder you are likely to have in your spice rack already. My huge container of chili powder is Tone’s brand from Sams Club, and it contains “other spices” plus garlic powder and salt. Feel free to add as much cayenne pepper as you want to really give your seeds a kick. These are spicy enough that Mia won’t go anywhere near them.

Chili Lime Pumpkin Seeds from dontmissdairy.com

Chili Lime Pumpkin Seeds from dontmissdairy.com

Chili Lime Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
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Ingredients
  1. Seeds scooped from a medium size pumpkin
  2. 2 tablespoons of SmartBalance Light Buttery Spread
  3. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  4. the juice of 1/2 a lime
  5. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  6. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  7. zest of half a lime
Instructions
  1. Cover your freshly scooped pumpkin seeds with water in a medium bowl. Stir them around to loosen the pulp, then drain the water, picking out as much of the pulp as you can. Lay the seeds over a paper towel or cloth and pat dry.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a small bowl, melt 2 tablespoons of SmartBalance Light Buttery Spread. Add lime juice and pumpkin seeds to bowl of melted butter and stir to coat.
  4. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt, stirring to coat seeds with seasoning evenly.
  5. Spread the seeds onto a foil lined baking sheet to form one even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring to turn the seeds halfway through.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes before adding lime zest. Salt to taste.
Notes
  1. We got about a cup and a half of seeds from our pumpkin. If you have fewer, adjust the seasonings. You can always roast a small test batch to make sure you're not over (or under) seasoning your seeds.
don't miss dairy http://dontmissdairy.com/

Me and Eric in front of the runner up pumpkin from this years biggest pumpkin contest.

Picking out pumpkins at Bob’s Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay.

Pumpkins

Our pumpkins for Halloween.

Hope you enjoy my recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. Do you have any favorite pumpkin or Halloween traditions?

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