Happy [Paleo] Friendsgiving!

Happy FRIENDSgiving!

 My heart is so overjoyed to have spent Saturday evening accompanied by friends, laughs, and gratitude! We had the pleasure of hosting a Friendsgiving event at our home. This meant LOTS of scrumptious foods and desserts to share, so I made sure to add some to the menu that were delicious and nutritious.

Our lovely friends arrived and everyone channeled their “inner Picasso” and drew on little index cards all the things they’re thankful for! Kudos to Austin to thinking of this awesome ideas! 😉Thankful Wall Thankful Wall Thankful Wall

Do I have a creative group of friends or WHAT? 

After a round of games, the turkey was finally done! This, by the way, was the first turkey I have ever cooked so I was truly elated when… “Guys!! The red thing finally popped up! It’s done! And I think it actually looks good too!”Turkey Time

Thank you men for handling it from here...
Thank you men for handling it from here…

There were a variety of foods that friends brought, but again, I made sure to sneak in some healthy Paleo options to share. Let’s start off with a delicious Sweet Potato + Pumpkin Casserole. It’s so good that your friends won’t even miss those marshmallows– well, maybe. It’s worth a shot. 😉Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole

Paleo Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Casserole (serves 9)
Ingredients:
4 large sweet potatoes
1 16-oz can 100% pure pumpkin
3/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
2 tbsp cinnamon, divided
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp pumpkin spice
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Honey, for drizzling

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees and fill a large pot with water. Chop all the sweet potatoes into large chunks and place in pot. Place the pot on high and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Once finished, remove from heat and strain all the excess water.
2. Return sweet potatoes to pot and add 1 tbsp of olive oil (for dairy-tolerant folks, you may use butter instead). Mash sweet potatoes until smooth. Then, add in your can of pumpkin and mix together thoroughly.
3. Add in pumpkin spice, coconut milk, vanilla, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon to mixture. Mix thoroughly once more. Next, transfer mixture to casserole dish (I used a 9×9 pan).
4. In separate mixing bowl, toss almonds with cocoa powder, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon. Toss until evenly coated. Garnish the top of casserole with chopped almonds.
5. Finish off your casserole with a drizzle of honey over top of the almonds.
6. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. ENJOY 🙂

Paleo Sweet Potato CasseroleHow is that for a mouth-watering Paleo spin on a classic? Well, we’re not done yet. A fresh salad came to mind while I perused the grocery store on that Fall morning and then it hit me: Dino Kale + Cranberry Chopped Salad. I love when the grocery store inspires you! Also, this gem is Whole30 Compliant!Dino Kale + Cranberry Chopped SaladDino Kale + Cranberry Chopped Salad (serves 8)
Ingredients:
1 bunch Dino kale
3 cups spinach
1 small gala apple
1 green bell pepper
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Coat a oven-safe dish in coconut oil. Place washed cranberries in dish and stick in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, chop up kale, spinach, apple, bell pepper, and walnuts into bite-size pieces. Try to make everything about the same size. Place all ingredients in large bowl.
3. Once cranberries are finished, add them to the bowl. Toss all ingredients together.
4. If desired, add your favorite dressing (I suggest a balsamic) or top with some of that Thanksgiving turkey! EAT UP 🙂

Okay, so my salad is more "layered" than "tossed", but it was all for the photos, people!
Okay, so my salad is more “layered” than “tossed”, but it was all for the photos, people!

Other food items included green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, and a plethora of desserts. I will admit, I sampled a bit of everything. I will also admit that due to this I had a major sugar-induced headache for the next two days (Is a “food hangover” a thing? Because I think it is). Sometimes you pick your battles and choose to indulge every once in a while. Just choose wisely, then get back on track!

This is the "Remember to Make Wise Choices" Face.
This is the “Remember to Make Wise Choices” Face.

Happy Friendsgiving

I am so thankful to these wonderful people in my life (and those who couldn’t make it too) and I am happy to have celebrated Friendsgiving while sneaking in Paleo recipes at the same time. Thank you all for being my guinea pigs!


Happy Friendsgiving!
Maybe you can try some of these, or be inspired to find more Paleo Thanksgiving dishes for this year’s feast!Give Thanks

 

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Pumpkin Seeds: Three Ways!

STOP! Wait! Don’t throw out those pumpkin seeds! YES. I’m talking to YOU.

Okay this post may be a tad late after all that pumpkin carving happened over Halloween, but I have been sick for the past two weeks (cold AND flu, yuck) so I fell off the grid for a while. AND NOW I’M BACK: Heerrrreeee’s Victoria!!! So, if you happen to still be scooping out pumpkins during the rest of the fall season, or would like to save this post for next year, here is a delicious healthy snack so you can get more bang for your buck with your pumpkins!Pumpkin Seed SnacksOh, they are just waiting to be all roasted up, seasoned, and snacked on!! 😉

First and foremost, make sure you clean off all your seeds and pull them away from the pulp. Then, wash thoroughly in colander and drain. Finally, dry out your pumpkin seeds. I placed mine on a baking sheet (as pictured above) and let them sit out all Saturday afternoon. Once your seeds have had a nice tan, you can proceed with the recipe. Onward…Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300-degrees.
2. Toss seeds in olive oil.
3. Season to desired taste (pick a blend below!)
4. Toast seeds for 20 minutes, or until golden and crispy! Then, chow down!

Season Blends:
Sweet – cinnamon + coconut sugar
Salty – sea salt
Italian – garlic powder + basilCinnamon Pumpkin Seeds

Sea Salt Pumpkin Seeds

Italian Pumpkin Seeds

You can snack on these alone, sprinkle on salads, or use to top on some creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup for a warm meal on a cool Fall day! Oh just think of the possibilities! How else do you enjoy pumpkin seeds?

Again, sorry for being away for a while. I hope this recipe fills your house with a delicious Autumn scent and your tastebuds are left tingling! Be on the lookout for more recipes and healthy tips with The Thrive Life!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pie Bars

I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT!!!Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pie Bars

I cannot express how happy I am about this recipe. Fall is my favorite food season. As I mentioned earlier, anything pumpkin or apple flavor from September-November and I am all about it. My Pinterest is filled with various pumpkin-cinnamon-apple-spice recipes. Muffins, pies, cookies, bars. Now that I have dramatically shifted my diet. The majority of those recipes are, sadly, off-limits. 😦

Or are they? Well, I was going to find out. Starting with this recipe: Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars. Oh, but that ingredient list! Brown sugar? Butter? All-Purpose FLOUR?! No bueno, folks. What’s a girl to do? Why, MAKE IT PALEO, of course! 🙂Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pie BarAnd that is exactly what I did. Not only that, but I got it right on the first try. Oh yeah, check me out.

They are incredibly soft and moist. Full of pumpkin pie flavor. And similar to their original non-Paleo counterpart, they taste even better after the second day after all the flavors have combined more. Enjoy every second of these little beauties as they dance across your taste buds.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pie Bars
(makes 12 bars)
Ingredients:

1 15oz-can pumpkin
2 large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup EnjoyLife mini chocolate chips + 2 tbsp for sprinkling
1/2 cup pack coconut palm sugar, packed
1/2 coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted + extra for greasing
2 tbsp vanilla extract
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line a 9″x 11″ with aluminum foil, grease with coconut oil. Set aside.
2. In a large, microwave bowl, melt coconut oil for about 30 seconds on high.
3. Wait a bit so the eggs won’t cook. Then add eggs, pumpkin, applesauce, vanilla, coconut palm sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and whisk until smooth.
4. Add coconut flour and still until combined.
5. Stir in 1/2 EnjoyLife mini chocolate chips.
6. Pour batter into pan and smooth lightly with spatula.
7. Evenly sprinkle extra chocolate chips on the top of batter.
8. Bake for 34-35 minutes, or until cooked. Check doneness with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pie BarsPaleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pie Bars   Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pie Bars
Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BarsI truly love Fall recipes. I am so proud of the way these turned out and I hope that I will be able to transform more delicious Fall treats into Paleo-approved delicacies! Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pie Bars


What are your favorite Fall treats? What festive snack should I turn Paleo next?!