Autumn Peanut Butter Pumpkin Brownies- Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free

Autumn Pumpkin

Fall in LA is sort of like Spring (or summer) in LA. The mornings start out with partly cloudy skies, and cool crisp air that burns off into a 75f+ and sunny day. Although, there are some leaves on the ground, for the most part I would have no idea what time of year it was except for the fact that the sun starts to set around 5:00pm (which is such a drainer). Nonetheless, I am finding it very easy to make an abundance of seasonally appropiate dishes that are making it feel like fall in my kitchen. The recipe for these Autumn Peanut Butter Pumpkin Brownies can be found in my Disguising Superfoods as Cake dessert ebook along with 24 other recipes that are all raw and vegan. As I flipped through my ebook to find this recipe, a very nastalgic feeling came over me, realizing that I created something I loved for the sole purpose of creating. Much of our lives we create things because they are required of us, like a homework assingment for school or for a project at work. Finding this passion on the side of recipe development, food photography and a huge community of foodies via social media has brought an excitement back into my life that I lost after leaving my career in fashion to fight the battle against my eating disorder. Everyday, I look forward to seeing what other creative, healthy foodies are whipping up in the kitchen. It keeps motivated, inspired and connected so if you are reading this and are one of those foodies, thank YOU. From the bottom of my heart and always hungry tummy. XX -C

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Cinnamon, Banana Steel Cut Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins- Vegan

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Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal. It is without doubt because of my equal love for a cup of joe, the quite-ness of that time of day and my desire to fill a hungry belly that has been waiting all night. Sometimes, however my mornings do not allow enough time to indulge in a cooked breakfast at home and that’s where these incrediable little muffins really come into play. Long gone are the days where I skip breakfast so a little planning ahead ensures I am fed with nutritious and delicious “will travel” types of breakfast. Make these on a lazy Sunday morning and they will keep well for the whole week. These guys are full of fiber, protien, and potassium to ensure your day is off to a great start!

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Slightly Sweet Almond Loaf- Small Change, Big Impact – Gluten Free, Paleo

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This is almost the same exact bread I posted last week but I adjusted the ratios and 2 ingredients and now it tastes just right. Sometimes the smallest change can have a very big impact, not only when it comes to baking.

I have a confession to make. Recently, I have stopped working out, almost entirely. Like not even once a week am I breaking a sweat. This is so unlike the Cara I thought I knew myself to be. I mean even if it was after a night of intense drinking I would still manage to get my ass on a hike or at the very least, a walk. Not anymore. I literally have lost the desire to do anything workout related and I do not feel guilty about it all at. 

My old self would have agonized constantly over making sure I worked out enough. If I missed more than a day I would really beat myself up about it and not only restrict food but push myself extra hard once I finally got back to yoga, or the stairs or whatever. However, the slightest change in my attitude has made this no longer an issue for me. You see, I used to be obbsessed with having the perfect body and I would work out so much that I had constant pain in my legs and it was my normal. The shift in my attitude to knowing that I am worth more than just my physical body let me be ok with this lifestyle adjustment. I value myself for more than the number on the tag in my jeans, but as a young woman who is smart, hardworking, quick witted and full of big dreams. 

Although, a slight change in my attitude towards myself is a huge accomplishment, all I did was start to think differently and it has had a huge impact on my overall self acceptance. But, slow your roll! I am by no means saying that working out is not important. I know that for overall vitality begin active and moving your body is a key component. But I now know that when I am finally ready to put back on my lululemon pants, I will be doing it for the right reasons: happiness and health.   

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Gluten Free Almond Cranberry Bread -Paleo

cranberry loaf2

Recently, I have been doing a lot of gluten free baking and find that I like the healthy alternatives as much if not more as their less healthy counterparts. This loaf of bread is dense and satisfying a consists of mostly almonds and eggs making it nutrient and protien rich. It would be ideal for a cup of tea, to use as toast or the two ends to a perfect sandwich. It is not overly sweet, and I used a minimal amount of cranberry sauce to minimize the dessert aspect and to add a slight seasonal touch. You can use more or less or none at all if you want a straight forward savory bread.

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes or Muffins w/ Optional Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin spice cupcakes2

Its sunny and warm in Los Angeles right now but it felt like fall in my kitchen when I was making these pumpkin spice muffins. It’s only been over the last couple of years that I have really begun to enjoy pumpkin flavored dishes. I remember when I was living in Australia, a fellow classmate who was Australian, brought a can of pumpkin soup to school for lunch. I thought it was the weirdest thing. I mean, pumpkin in my mind was not a standard food item that we had during any other part of the year except the holidays and it was typically in a dessert.  Here we were in March and she was eating a can of pumpkin soup. Does pumpkin soup even come in a can in America? I do not know but I think the differences in culture and food are truly fascinating and watching my friend eat pumpkin soup from a can opened my mind to a whole new view of what pumpkin dishes could be.

pumpkin spice cupcakes

These cupcakes could be muffins if you omit the cream cheese frosting. I was making these for a cheese lover which is why I choose to make the frosting. I myself limit the amount of dairy in my diet so much that it is almost non-existent but I will say this frosting was really good and super easy to make. The muffins/cupcakes are dairy, soy, gluten free and can be vegan if you use an egg substitute. Be creative and make this recipe work for you! 
pumpkin spice cupcakes3

What you need:
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (I used canned)
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1 egg or egg substitute
1 tbsp coconut oil
3/4 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp of each cinnamon, nutmeg & ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch pink salt

For the Frosting (optional)
1 8oz container of cream cheese
1/2 cup xylitol
5-7 drops liquid stevia

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a different bowl mix all the wet ingredients until emulsified.
4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients until smooth consistency is reached
5. prepare a muffin/cupcake tray by coating with coconut oil, i use spray. Then evenly disperse the batter in the tins. about 3/4 full for 6 regular sized muffins/cupcakes.
6. Bake for 15-20 minuets. poke with tooth pick to make sure in comes out clean which means they are done baking. Let cool completely

For the Frosting: 
1. Combine everything in a bowl and whip together using an electric hand mixer. taste it and adjust as needed.
2. Put in a plastic ziplock and put in the fridge while the muffins/cupcakes bake. 
3. After the muffins/cupcakes cool completely, cut a small hole in the corner of the back and squeeze out the frosting on to the cupcake turning the cupcake by hand to frost in a circular way. 

Enjoy!
xx
Cara

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Carrot, Ginger, Parsnip Perfection. Vegan, Gluten Free

Carrot Ginger Parsnip soup

Where do I even begin with this soup? It was a Saturday night and my boyfriend, Jaime and I were staying in and decided soup was going to be on the menu. I had a long day volunteering with Stray Cat Alliance for their annual fundraiser event called the Stray Cat Club. It is a fundraiser in full on celebrity style gala that Los Angeles is known for. Attending fancy ass fundriasers are what wealthy people do for fun in this city. Not kidding.

This event has vegan food made by Chef Tanya from Native Foods Cafe, Animal Planet TV hosts galore, with black tie attire and art abundant silent auction items. For the last three years I have helped design the flower arrangements which is something I really enjoy doing and this year we bought over 2500 roses. Lets just say I got a few cuts on my fingers from the thorns. #worthit

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4 Books to Read Before Transitioning to a Plant-based Lifestyle- Vegan, Raw, Vegetarian- Series

china study2

Back in 2010, I was trying to get my health in control. I was Yo-Yo-ing through life; always on a diet, Atkins, Southbeach, Blood Type ect. and battled with an unhealthy relationship to food that basically ran my life since I was a teenager. When I made the choice to get serious about my health I started by watching Food Inc. on Netflix. Eventually, that led me to the book store to research more about what I learned from the film.

I have always had a softspot for good books and think that the books a person chooses to visiably display at their home can say a lot about them. Someone once told me that you should never trust anyone who doesn’t have books. 

The books on this list really helped shape the way I approach my health now and gave be a solid backbone of knowledge to call upon when food was the topic of discussion. I remember when I first transitioned to a vegan diet I was met with a lot of adversity from my meat eating friends and having some information to support my decision was very helpful. I think it is important to do research before altering your diet and if necessary consult a doctor, but don’t be afraid try out different things to see what works for you. Ultimately, the true test of health is how you feel day to day and eating prodomintely plants makes me feel really great. 

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LOVE- Nail and Wood DIY Wedding Gift

Nail and Wood Art

Sometimes giving gifts can be difficult. What to buy, how much to spend, will they like it? These questions constantly come up for me when I want to give something special to someone I care about. I have always found that it is hard to beat a DIY. It shows that you put effort, time, thought and creativity into it which is really special. This past week I was attending a wedding and I knew I wanted to make something. Not only because i wanted to give a thoughtful gift but I really had no idea what I would buy for them otherwise. I searched around the internet for DIY wedding gifts and thought that this nail and wood piece would be perfect. Its easy to make and takes about an hour to complete.

Nail and Wood Art3

Step 1. Gather the following supplies- nails, hammer, pencil, ruler, rope/string, scissors and wood plank. I purchased the string and board at Michaels for $15. I owned a hammer, pair of scissors and nails but these could be purchased at any hardware store. 

Step 2. Decide what word you would like to use and search for a font that you want to copy. I chose the word love and picked out this San Serif style font to match the font on the wedding invitation of the bride and groom this was for. 

Step 3. Using a ruler, measure the board and determine how big the letters should be to fill the space of the board evenly. Draw your letters lightly using a pencil.

Step 4.  Using the hammer, nail the nails along the outline of the letters. I did this free hand without measuring out equal distance between each letter. 

Step 5.  Tie a piece of string (not cut from the roll) to a nail at the most outter nail of your first word and begin to twist around the other nails until the entire letter is filled out and each nail has been utilized multiple times. Tie a not to which ever nail you ended on, cut the string and repeat for the remaing. I started on the ‘L” as you can see from the image above

I was so happy with how this gift turned out and I was even more excited about how much the bride and groom liked it. That really was the icing on the cake. 

If you have any questions about this DIY feel free to comment or send me an email through the contact tab on Carawrs.com.

xx,
Cara
 Nail and Wood Art2

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Maple Whiskey Glazed Rainbow Carrots- Vegan, Paleo

maple whiskey glazed hierloom carrots

Wake up in the morning, feeling like P.Diddy (hey whats up girl). Grab my glasses I’m out the door I’m gonna hit the city (lets go). Before I leave brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack. ‘Cause when I leave for the night I ain’t comin’ back. Just kidding. I don’t actually know the words to a Kesha song. But I love the idea of using alcohol to flavor dishes. Whether it is a pasta sauce with white wine, four bean chili with red wine or whiskey for glazed carrots, cooking with alcohol feels a lil naughty and I like it. I tend to listen to music when I cook so if this dish had a theme song then its Tik Tok by Kesha. But only because of the Jack. If you use a different whiskey then I understand if you pick a different theme song. Maybe “Take Your Whiskey Home” by Van Halen or “Well Whiskey” by Bright Eyes. Whatever you choose as the background music, if you choose to listen to music at all, I can almost guarentee your guests will be pleased by these Maple Whiskey Glazed Carrots.

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Citrus-y Green Beans with Almond & Cashew Crumble- Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free Thanksgiving Recipe

Citrus-y Green Beans

Green Beans, specifically green bean casserole is a common dish at most Thanksgiving feasts. It’s serious comfort food when served the typical way with the butter, cream, flour, sugar and cheese with fried onions on top. Seriously, whats not to love? Well…, a whole lot actually but no need to get into the lethal combination of ingredients like that. This citrus green bean dish is really light, healthy and delicious. The toasted almond and cashew crumble give it that crunch we love from the fried onions of traditional casserole but with nutrient dense nuts instead. The subtle hints of the peppery parsley add a savory aspect to the dish that is balanced by the vibrant lemon vinagerette. It really is very tasty, trust me. I couldn’t stop eating the green beans with my fingers as I was photographing them. Ekk!

Citrus-y Green Beans 3

What you need:
1/2 cup blanched and slivered almonds

1/2 cup cashew pieces
2 Tbsp coconut oil

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Flaky sea salt
Pepper
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed

Method:
Lightly toast almonds and cashews in a skillet over medium heat. Let cool, then crush with your hands into little pieces.

Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add almonds, cashews, garlic, and lemon zest and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and golden. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Set aside.

Place lemon juice in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Prepare a bowl with ice and water. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until tender, about 2-4 minutes. Transfer the green beans to the bowl of ice water, let sit for a minute to stop the cooking then drain green beans, return to the pot, and toss with the lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette.

Arrange green beans on a platter, drizzling with vinaigrette left at the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle almond and cashew crumble mixture on top. Enjoy!

Stay tuned to Cara’s Kitchen because I will be posting healthy alternatives to your favorite holiday dishes!

xoxox,
Cara

Citrus-y Green Beans 2

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