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! 
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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

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. 


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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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
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed

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!


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MindBodyGreen(dot)Com Recipe Feature- Decadent Vegan Strawberry Basil Cheesecake

Strawberry basil cheesecake2

Today, I am celebrating because my recipe for raw, vegan strawberry basil cheesecake is featured on It is a crazy good feeling seeing it up on their homepage. Like so many of you, food blogging is not something we do for a living, but something we do because we love it and we want to share good eats with the world. I really do have a healthy obsession with food (finally) and want to help the people in my life, near and far, to take better care of themselves. Having a recipe published on a site that I read regularly is, well awesome, and motivation to keep doing what I am doing because of the joy it brings. I’d love if you headed over there to check it out and shared it with your cake loving friends! 
xoxox, Cara 

Strawberry basil cheesecake

Vijitas- Vegan Fajitas with Cucumber Salsa, Avocado, Sour Supreme and Pickled Red Onions

vijitas 2

Tacos are sort of an instituion in Los Angeles and it really is no surprise considering there is such a large population of hispanics living in this city. I have always been a fan of their food and their culture but to be completely honest, I do not know too much detail about it except from what I have experienced here in Los Angeles. My mexican vacations have consisted mostly of body shots and bikinis in Cabo on spring break when I was in college. Thank god I am past that phase. phew.

Although I still love a cerveza from time to time, what I love most about mexican food is the use of herbs and spices to flavor the food. Chipotle peppers, chili pepper, cumin, cilantro, garlic, onions, I love it all. One of my all time favorite things here in Los Angeles are the mexican street vendors who sell fruit with spices and lime juice or better known as Ensalada de Frutas con Chile. It is like the best deal in town! You get a massive serving of watermelon, cucumber, mango, pinneapple, jicama with fresh lime and spices for $5-$7. I refer to these vendors as “the fruit man” and I always get so excited when I see their rainbow umbrellas on the street. #delicious    

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5 Delicious Avocado Recipes- Gucamole isn’t one of them!

avocado recipe

I love avocados. Not only are they tremendously healthy for you but they taste pretty good too! If you follow me on instagram then you know I eat them almost everyday. However, there was a time in my life when I not only thought they were gross but that they were so high in fat that they would make me fat. Boy, was I crazy or what!? 

You know what is also crazy? Tinder. Tinder is crazy. I was having a potluck dinner with some of my girlfriends, and we caught up over multiple glasses of red wine and girl talk. My one friend was filling us in on her most recent breakup with a guy who simply “played it too safe in life.” Eventually, I asked her how she met him and she responded quickly with “oh, we met on Tinder.” I looked at her completely puzzeled. “People actually use Tinder?” I responded in shock. And the entire table of girls started to laugh. Turns out all 4 of my girlfriends were using Tinder and it was of no surprise to them that I would be unaware of the apps popularity and user base. I am known for not being in the know about many things, celebrities, movies and dating apps included. Although I live in a bubble and under a rock I do know how to spot great ingredients and tell you about their nutrient content. 

So, back to Avocados…

Avocados are overflowing with health benefits including a high luten content that slows the degeneration of your eyes, is higher in fiber than any other fruit helping to keep you fuller for longer and aids in blood sugar regulation. Thats not all, one avocado has 35% more potassium than a banana (sorry naner), reduces inflammation and helps increase collogen production. Avocado’s are seriously one of natures most healthiest foods which is why I created 5 recipes using avocados so we all had even another excuse to eat more of them. I hope you enjoy! PS. The last one is my favorite.

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Butternut Squash Pizza, with Brown Butter Brussels & Carmelized Leeks- Vegan

Butternut Pizza2

Its a couple of days before October so according to the calendar it is fall but the weather is only changing slightly so it is hard to really notice except by the date on the calendar. However, as I look out the window into the cloudy Sunday morning, listening to the birds churp, it feels like fall and I am calm and happy. I am house sitting at some friends for the next couple of weeks while they are in Europe which means I get to enjoy all the benefits of an actual house that my studio apartment does not offer including: washer and dryer, backyard with hammock, garden with organic vegetables, a TV, a driveway to park in, and two KITTIES! Oh, #lifeperks! Yes, I just started a new hashtag. Hopefully it catches on more the Gretchens attempt at making “Fetch” happen. 

Speaking of happenings! This pizza, although is still a work in progress, is delicious and I wanted to share the recipe. I was attending a potluck with my girls and I knew I wanted to bring something with brussel sprouts and butternut squash. I had planned on making a roasted dish of veggies but decided to step outside of the culinary comfort zone and turn my dish into pizza because really, what is better than wine and pizza with your girlfriends? nothing. 

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Cara’s Cabbage Salad- Vegan, Gluten Free

Cabbage Salad2

Cabbage is under rated in my opinion. It might not be known as super healthy when compared to kale or spinach but it helps prevent against cancer, is great for weightloss and is food for your brain. Cabbage is also very hydrating and the crunchy texture has me grabbing for it whenever I want to make a delicious and refreshing salad. I tend to keep it pretty simple and balance out the flavors and textures with fresh herbs, almonds and avocados. 

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Blueberry Babe Smoothie- Raw, Vegan, Delicious End of Summer Recipe

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Who doesn’t love smoothies? Clearly that is a rhetorical question because I am hoping that everyone likes a good smoothie from time to time. Its a great way to get all sorts of nutrients into your body in an easily digestable way. By blending up the fruit and veggies, you are in a way starting the digestion process by breaking it down in to a liquid form. One more reason to love smoothies!

This is a smoothie I tossed together with some summer fruits that are unfortunately on their way out of season! I am really sad for summer to slip away but fully ready to embrace fall as I love everything it brings. 

What you need: 
1 1/2 cup blueberries
5-6 figs
1/4-1/2 cup water – for desired consistency
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2-3 big mint leaves
juice form one lemon
pinch cinnamon

Combine everything in a blender, turn on high until smooth and creamy. Garnish and serve. 

I hope you love this end of summer smoothie! What do you love most about transitioning to fall?