A Week of Vegan Meals

As you can guess from the title, I am going to tell you about some of the meals I had this week. I am an advocate for simple eating and am always excited to show others how easy making vegan food can be. The meals I eat aren’t very fancy, but I can assure you they are delicious.

Monday

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I hadn’t made a smoothie bowl in awhile so I thought I would give it a try. The base includes:

  • Almond milk
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Strawberry (vegan) protein powder
  • A spoonful of cocoa powder
  • A dollop of almond butter
  • A giant handful of fresh spinach

I didn’t have the ingredients to make the granola I usually make so I improvised. I mixed some dried oats with cinnamon and a little agave in a bowl before laying the mixture out on a cookie sheet. I toasted the oats for about 15-20, or until they were filling my apartment with the delicious sweetness of cinnamon. After they cooled, I added them to the food processor with some Medjool dates. After blended, simply add to the smoothie bowl with some almond butter.

Tuesday

Who doesn’t love a sandwich? If you are new to veganism, you might think that sandwiches are pointless if they are void of meat, cheese, and mayo, all the things that you use to make sandwiches delicious.

BUT! I will prove you wrong. Here is what you will need to make a BOMB VEGAN SANDWICH:

Ingredients:

  • Bread (duh)
  • vegan mayo
  • sweet, sliced pickles
  • spinach or lettuce
  • marinated artichoke hearts
  • tomatoes
  • hummus (flavor of your choice)

Now, simply build your sandwich. For me, the combo of the sweet pickles, the mayo (vegan mayo is delicious by the way) and the artichokes are enough to keep me happy. Also, remember that avocado is your sandwich friend. Don’t forget about that.

Wednesday

Time for some beans. I am lazy af sometimes and beans are my go-to meal.  All you need to do it pour the can into a pan and warm them up.

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I topped these black beans with some slices tomato, avocado, vegan mayo and siracha!

Thursday

My boyfriend made this meal, so I can’t take the credit for it. But it was amazing, let me tell you.

Vegan Teriyaki Mango Rice

After making some white rice, he added teriyaki sauce to the pan. We had fresh, ripe mango on hand so he sauteed some slices with a mixture of vegetables. (Sometimes we buy a bag of a frozen organic medley). This salty and sweet meal was delicious and probably took about 20 mins.

Friday

Who says you can’t have pasta and meatballs?!

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These wheat-based meatless meatballs are the best I have ever had in terms of meat substitutes. The texture is that similar to the real thing. I sauteed some spinach and grape tomatoes so I felt like I was eating actual vegetables. (Meatball brand: 365 Organic)

I hope you enjoyed all these EASY and fun meal ideas. Let me know which one you are excited to try in the comments 🙂

 

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My Tips for Vegan Eating

A lot of people assume that this lifestyle is difficult and expensive. But that has not been my experience. After a few months of practice and changing the way I view my meals, I have found eating a plant based diet to not only saves me money but is also very simple.

Here are my tips on how to make a vegan diet work for you, no matter your income or lifestyle.

1. Decide What Kind of Vegan You Are

There are SO many different ways to be vegan: Raw vegan, 80/10/10, Raw before 4, High Carb, Low Carb, More Fruit based, More Veggie based…you get the idea. By researching and choosing what will be best for your body, you can become organized with your food shopping. However, be careful. Sometimes the research can be overwhelming. Remember that everyone’s body is different. You might need to experiment for a few months with different diets to see which one your body responses to the best. But knowing your goal is an important part of this lifestyle.

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2. Make a List 

This may seem obvious but it helps me. There are so many amazing vegan substitutes out there and the choices can easily cause you to veer off your budget. After you decide what kinds of foods you want to be buying, write them down and stick to the list.

3. Shop at Multiple Grocery Stores 

Whole Foods is wonderful and all, but I can’t afford to do all my grocery shopping there. Trader Joe’s is also wonderful, but they don’t always have everything I want. Don’t get discouraged. Set aside an hour or two for your weekly shopping and visit more than one grocery store. Again, this takes practice. When my boyfriend and I first moved to California, we solely shopped at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods because we thought these were the only places that stocked our vegan necessities. Later we discovered Sprouts, which had all the brands of Whole Foods for half the prices, and a grocery discount store that had organic frozen fruit and pea protein meatballs for a fraction of the price at the other stores. Yes, this will take up more of your time, but it will save you money in the end. Plus, our health and well being is worth putting effort into.

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4. Plan Your Meals Around Your Veggies

Most of us are use to our dinner plate containing meat as the main course, potatoes or pasta (probably with cheese or a creamy sauce) as the side and some veggies are thrown in. With this picture in mind, most will be at a loss as to what a vegan meal should look like. What I like to do, is plan my meal around what vegetable I want to have. For example, if I have zucchini and spinach in the fridge, I will sautee these together with some garlic. Then I plan the rest of the meal off these flavors. Maybe I’ll make some rice with soy sauce. Or sweet potatoes and beans. For me, getting my greens in as much as I can is important to me. So if I base my whole meal around this, I can be sure I’m getting the nutrients I need AND I can plan a solid meal.

5. “Throw Together” Meals Are Your Friend 

If you are on a budget, this idea works really well. Say it is coming close to the end of the week and you will need to go grocery shopping again. But you still have some veggies and other items that you need to eat first. Well, take whatever you have left and throw it together. This started off as a joke between my boyfriend and I because he is one of those people who mix all the contents of his place together and eats it this way. (Where I usually eat each food separately). He convinced me that we had plenty of food left in the house for dinner because we could make everything we had left together. We have made some pretty delicious and unexpected meals this way.

Here is an example of one of these “throw together” meals.

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We didn’t have enough noodles to make a large portion for both of us and our zucchinis were about to go bad. I topped them off with the leftover tofu and baked some sliced sweet potatoes because they are my favorite.

6. Food Isn’t Everything

It has taken me a long time to accept this. I love eating and I love food and I have been known to get irritated if my meals are not the way I think they should be. But once I realized that I am eating for my health and wellbeing, this idea helped me mellow out about food and allowed me to enjoy what I had and what I could afford to buy. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of switching to veganism, take this notion into mind. Yes, food is delicious and necessary, but we don’t need to be a slave to it. In most other cultures, they don’t have much of a choice when it comes to their meals. They eat a lot of the same things every day. It is we Americans who demand something new and exciting everytime we want to eat. Reject this and be grateful for what you can have. Eat to nourish and take care of your body.

I hope you found these tips helpful! I would love to hear what works for you. Comment below with any thoughts or suggestions 🙂

 

What I Would Eat If I Were a Vegan Hobbit

This is probably the nerdiest post I have created. When the idea came to me, I entertained it for a moment but then laughed off its potential silliness. However, I recently rewatched ALL three movies (extended of course) with my boyfriend last week and was re-immersed into the beauty of my all time favorite film. Even though I have watched these movies more than I could ever count, for some reason, this time felt like the first. And now I’m all obsessed and wanting to talk about it all over again. Despite the fact that the film just celebrated its 15-year anniversary, which made me feel strange and old, I wish Lord of the Rings was relevant again.

So here is my funny attempt at bringing hobbits into 2017.

As you may know, hobbits eat 7 times a day. For some that may seem like a lot of food. For me, I think that’s a pretty great life.

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Here is what I would eat in a day if I was a vegan hobbit:

Breakfast: Strawberries and Cream Smoothie

I love to start my day off with a smoothie and I think the hobbits would too if they had access to electricity and a blender.

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For this smoothie, simply blend:

Frozen Strawberries

One Frozen Banana

A Scoop of Vegan Vanilla Protein powder

Almond Milk

A splash of vanilla extract

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Second Breakfast: Oatmeal

I suspect that hobbits loved porridge so here is my take on a hot second breakfast.

I love mixing cinnamon, a little agave, and apples into my oatmeal before topping it off with a little almond milk. Unfortunately for this picture, I was out fo almond milk so I opted for some slices dates instead. (Definitely prefer with any non-dairy milk, however).

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Elvensies: Tomatoes and Avocado

Time for a snack! My go to is one avocado and a tomato sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. Given a hobbits love for gardening, I think they would approve of this.

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Lunch: Salad (Nothing Fancy)

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I am pretending that all these veggie came out of Sam’s garden.

Afternoon Tea: Apples and Peanut Butter with Tea

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As much as I would love to be grazing on tea sandwiches and cakes, this afternoon snack is better suited to my lifestyle. And I’m pretty sure hobbits had apple trees in their backyards…right?

Dinner: Seasoned Potatoes with Siracha Mayo Dipping Sauce

I am simply obsessed with potatoes. They have such diversity (you can boil them, mashed them, stick them in a stew perhaps) they are a great way to start out my evening of eating.

First, slice the potatoes into “chips.” Then place them in a container or Tupperware with a lid. Drizzle olive oil and seasoning. I like to use this seasoning mix, which includes spices like onion powder, garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, pepper, and parsley.

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I also sprinkle paprika for some kick. Once this is down, cover with the lid and shake so all the potatoes are nicely coated.

Baked on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, on each side at 400 degrees.

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For the dipping sauce, I simply mixed vegan mayo, siracha, and mustard. So GOOD.

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Supper: Mushroom and Veggie Rice

I wanted to incorporate some earthy flavors for my hobbit recipes and mushrooms seemed like a good fit. Also, hobbit LOVE mushrooms.

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This is barely even a recipe as it is so simple. But is my go to dinner.

Start by sauteeing zucchini, chopped garlic and mushrooms in a pan that is lightly lined with olive oil. I saute the zucchini first, as they take longer to soften than the other ingredients.

While these veggies are cooking, put on a pot of rice.

I added spinach right before serving to get a good dose of protein. Add some salt and pepper or if you want to trail from these hobbit recipes a bit, sprinkle some soy sauce on top as well. I had originally made this meal with sweet potatoes, which you could substitute if you don’t like what I had for dinner above.

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Be sure to finish your day off with some weed or a mug of ale in true hobbit fashion.

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I hope this post both encouraged you and reminded you how awesome life would be as a hobbit.

 

Vegan PB&J Sundae

Vegan PB&J Ice cream

I’m back! (Social media detox update coming soon)

I have been a huge fan of banana ice cream, even before I was vegan. It is SO versatile. You can make it any flavor, add any topping…and it’s actually good for you.

This week, my boyfriend and I were craving something sweet after dinner and I remembered we had a bag of frozen mixed berries in the freezer. After making them into a sweet sauce and seeing what else I had in my cabinets and refrigerator, this delightful sundae was created.

It really is freakin amazing.

Ingredients 

2-3 frozen bananas

2 tablespoons of cacao powder

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2-3 tablespoon of peanut butter

1/2 of frozen mixed berries

1 teaspoon of agave nectar

shredded coconut (if desired)

First, add the bananas, cacao powder, vanilla and peanut butter into a food processor. I like to let the bananas thaw for a few minutes, as it is easier to blend them. Blend all your ingredients until smooth, like ice cream.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Nice Cream

While your food processor is mixing everything together, add the frozen mixed berries to a saucepan and let simmer on medium heat. Once the berries begin to melt, add the agave nectar. Let simmer until the berries aren’t frozen anymore.

Mixed Berries

Next, simply assemble. I topped this with shredded coconut for some texture. I would also suggest adding some more peanut butter on top! I love this recipe because it feel like I’m eating a dessert but it’s all nature’s goodness instead of processed sugar 🙂

Vegan PB&J Ice cream

Vegan PB&J Ice cream

 

 

Last Week’s Vegan Dinners

With lack of time and money, sometimes comes a lack of creativity. Vegan meals don’t have to be extravagant to be delicious, especially if you really aren’t in the mood to think outside the box. Well that was my mood all last week, but I have to say, I still made some pretty satisfying meals AND used a lot of the same ingredients, thus saving money. (For my tips on how to grocery shop on a budget, check out this post!)

Monday

If you follow me on Instagram or Tumblr, you know that I have been on a bit of a tofu kick lately. There are a lot of warnings surrounding tofu, however, I believe that eating soy in moderation, like anything, is okay. It is a lot healthier than meat, anyway. For this dish, I started off by cooking a cup of white rice. In another pan, I caramelized some onions in avocado oil, adding a giant handful of spinach when the onions where almost done. I set that aside and prepared my tofu. My favorite way to eat tofu is to slice it into small chunks and saute it in a little soy sauce. This gives it some flavor and the pan frying gives it the little bit of crisp I like.

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Tuesday

Still feeling like some tofu tonight so I prepared it the same way as I did the night before. This time I topped it on top of a big plate of fresh lettuce, sliced avocado and marinated artichoke hearts. I’m obsessed with these artichokes from Trader Joe’s (I have definitely mentioned them before) and I like to use the marinated oil as my dressing. Super easy, crazy delicious.

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Wednesday

I was craving sweet potatoes but I was also wanted some greens. This dish is so easy, it is kind of ridiculous I’m telling you how to make it. However, I will.

I started by chopping sweet potatoes into thin slices and placing them on a cook sheet with a little olive oil. I sprinkled salt, pepper and garlic powder over them before placing the potatoes into a 400 degree oven. They only need to cook for about 15 minutes on each side, or until they are your desired crispiness. I cooked some more rice and sauteed spinach and kale with sliced garlic. Boom. Rice bowl.

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Thursday

I didn’t realize how much rice I ate last week until I made this post. But it so easy and cheap and GOOD. Today, I topped the rice with BBQ seitan, broccoli and more sweet potatoes! I cooked the potatoes the same way as I did on Tuesday, I just cut them into smaller chunks. The seitan wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be. It could have used some more BBQ sauce, which I didn’t have. Still, very satisfying and FILLING.

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Friday

It’s Friday, and I really don’t want rice again. In fact, I don’t feel like cooking at all. When that is the case…BANANA ICE CREAM. For this bowl, I sliced  strawberries and spooned some almond butter on top. I also made my favorite granola which is simply oats, 1/2 of a ripe banana, 3 or 4 dates and shredded coconut.

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I hope you enjoyed this short and sweet post!

Have a happy and healthy day 🙂

What I Eat In a Day: At Work

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my job requires me to work from an office. And, I am determined to make the best of it. That includes taking care of my health. Here is what I prepare and eat during my 8-5 work day!

7:00 am

Wake up. Shower (sometimes). Stretch. Drink a big glass of water.

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Staying hydrated is the best thing you can do for yourself. I try to finish this liter of water before I have anything to eat. I have recently started taking some supplements, so I wash these down in the morning as well. I have been taking L-Lysine, B12, Turmeric, Zinc and a Probiotic, daily. I plan to go into my supplement usage in another post, as I am still experimenting with what I need.

Next, I prepare my smoothie. I am not usually really hungry right when I wake and I find that I am less hungry throughout the day if I only drink water or tea for the first few hours upon waking. I make my smoothie in the morning, and pack it for later.

Lately, my morning smoothies include:

2-3 frozen bananas

About a handful of frozen blueberries

Two dates

1/2 cup fresh spinach

1 scoop of wheat barley grass powder

A few splashes of almond milk and water

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After riding my bike to work and settling in, I make a cup of tea. I have been drinking  Trader Joe’s Ginger Turmeric every morning and I find the flavor both soothing and refreshing.  I don’t feel the need to drink coffee anymore, as I feel energized enough in the morning and I don’t feel that I needed an added stimulate to my system. (I also plan to go further into this in another post.)

9:30 am

I usually get hungry for my smoothie at this point. I have been drinking this same blend for about two weeks now and I am always delighted with how refreshing and sweet it is.

11:00 am

Now it’s time for second breakfast. I am obsessed with overnight oatmeal right now and have been preparing some nightly to enjoy in the middle of my morning. For these oats, I used vanilla oat milk, a little coconut cream, lots of cinnamon, golden raisins from the farmers market and a few swirls of almond butter.

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12:30 pm/1:00pm

I usually take my lunch around this time and I have a whole hour. I have the luxury of living about 5 minutes via bike from my job so I ride home for lunch. I especially like this because it gets me moving and out into the fresh air in the middle of the day. Because I want to embrace my full hour, I usually make something quick and easy for lunch. I also prefer to have something raw because I need the energy to get through the rest of the day.

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Today, I prepared a plate of zucchini noodles with slices of avocado and green onion. I topped this off with a little vegan ranch dressing. I am not a huge fan of salads so this works perfectly for me. I usually spend my break watching Youtube videos.

For a little something sweet before heading back to the office, I made a date and banana taco with almond butter. img_3417

Both of these lunch items could easily be made in the morning and packed in a lunch box if you aren’t able to come home for lunch!

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Sometimes I will make more tea if I am starting to get hungry or fidgety. I also like to snack on some walnuts or grapes. I also should mention that I bring a canteen of filtered water with me every day, that I finish before my work day is over.

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Here is my simple work day menu! I hope you enjoyed this or found it helpful. Remember, don’t let anything stand in the way of keeping yourself healthy. You are worth it 🙂

Vegan Fall Comfort Food

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Growing up in New England, Fall weather meant apple picking, craving pumpkins and lots of richly cooked food. You know, the typical Fall stuff.

Now that I have moved to California, it feels kind of strange buying pumpkins in a tank top. But like everyone else in the world, I love the flavors this season brings: pumpkin, cinnamon and apple. So I wanted to incorporate them to into my vegan lifestyle. Here are a few recipes (some are my own, some I will link to) that say “Fall has arrived” but you know, vegan style.

Also, I didn’t realize that these were basically all dessert foods until now, but I don’t think anyone will be complaining  🙂

Pumpkin Pie

I’ve got to be honest with you, this was the best pumpkin pie I have ever had. I found this recipe off Minimalist Baker’s website. I liked the idea of a no bake, gluten free pie as I am trying to stay away from bread and wheat and my apartment gets really hot when I turn the oven on. I followed the recipe pretty much to a tee, except for I used hemp milk in my filling and I opted not to make the coconut whipped cream.

crustThe crust was one of my favorite parts as it was simply oats, dates (we all know how much I love dates) and nuts. Minimalist Baker used pecans, but I used a blend of walnuts and almonds.

This recipe does require a little bit of time since you have to let the crust and the filling sit in the refrigerator for a few hours but it’s totally worth it.

Pumpkin is actually packed with a ton of nutrition despite it being low in calories. Just one cup of pumpkin contains over 200% of your daily value of vitamin A. It is also a excellent source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus and potassium as well as vitamins C, E and B complex. Do yourself a favor and make this delicious creation.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

 

Baked Apples

To me, this is the ultimate sign of Autumn. I have fond memories of my mom baking apples after I came home from school. Normally they are made with lots of brown sugar, but I wanted to keep these apples healthy. morebaked.png

To start, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Next, I hollowed out the middle of the apples, leaving the bottom intact. I placed these in a baking dish and lined the bottom of the dish with water, a few inches deep.

For the filling, I blended oats, a handful of chopped dates, a little agave nectar and a few teaspoons of cinnamon, in the food processor. After stuffing my cored apples with this, I topped with a little more cinnamon.

Bake these for about 30 minutes or until the apples have softened and the filling is crispy on top! Vegan Baked Apples

Vegan Meatloaf

When I was a meat eater, meatloaf and mashed potatoes were a huge fall and winter dinner in my home, complete with bacon on top and lots and lots of ketchup. Where I have no desire to eat real meatloaf again, I was intrigued to try out this vegan version of a very comforting dish.

My mom, who has transitioned into the vegan lifestyle (7 weeks now!) raved about her discovery of this recipe and promoted me to try it immediately. The ingredients were simple, most of which I already had in my cabinets or fridge so I gave it a go.

This was by far the most delicious vegan substitute I have tasted. Marty and I keep staring at each other in disbelief between mouthfuls. We had to stop ourselves from eating the whole pan. And the only way to do that was the thought of making meatloaf sandwiches for lunch the next day. Vegan Meatloaf

This recipe comes from Whole Fully. Gluten free and made with chickpeas and pinto beans, there is no guilt involved while indulging in this classic comfort food. The glaze really makes it, so don’t skip out. I didn’t have Worcestershire sauce or molasses, so I substituted soy sauce and agave. With meals like this, there is nothing that could make me go back to eating animal flesh.

Pumpkin Pie “Ice Cream”

This is super easy and a resourceful way to use the rest of your organic pumpkin left over from your pumpkin pie. The great thing about banana ice cream, is that it doesn’t really taste like banana. It will take on whatever flavor you want.

For this dessert (or breakfast) simply blend two or three frozen bananas in the food processor with a splash of non dairy milk (I used hemp but almond would be delicious as well), about a 1/2 cup of pumpkin, a splash of vanilla, and a tablespoon (or to taste) of pumpkin spice. Blend until smooth. I topped with some sliced medjool dates and cinnamon for more sweetness. You have GOT to try this.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Nice Cream

 

Pumpkin Spice Cookies (Gluten and Sugar Free)

I have made something similar to this in one of my very first posts. I thought I would give these cookies another try with a Fall frame of mind. These are so easy to make and only require 5 ingredients. This recipe makes about 10 cookies.

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.

Vegan Ingredients

In a bowl, mash up 4 very ripe bananas. Next add 1 1/4 cups of ground almonds and 1 1/4 cups of ground walnuts. I just threw both nuts into the food processor together and blended until almost fully ground. I like the cookies to have a few chunks. Add this mixture to the bananas, along with 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds and one cup of chopped dates. Finally, add in pumpkin spice, to taste. I just keep spooning it in to the mixture until it was pumpkin flavored enough for my liking. Mix all the ingredients well and let sit for a few minutes.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Spoon your mixture onto a cookie sheet, flattening a bit to whatever size you want them. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown and firm!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

For an extra touch, smear some almond butter in between for a healthy cookie sandwich.

I hope you enjoyed these Fall comfort foods! Comment below with any foods you associate with the upcoming chilly weather and snuggling indoors. 🙂

Avocado Gypsy