Vegan Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins

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Try not to lick your screen: Vegan Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins. 😛

As promised, I spent some serious time this weekend in L’s Test Kitchen and perfected a vegan version of the Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins I posted last week. So, for my vegan peeps waiting with bated breath for the vegan version – your wait is no longer! (Insert jump for joy). I actually think this version is BETTER (if that’s even possible) than the non-vegan version. It’s just as simple too, woohoo!

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Ingredients for Vegan Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins: cocoa nibs (mine didn’t come in time from Amazon, so I used the same chocolate chips as in the previous recipe – just pretend they are nibs), vanilla extract, vegan vanilla protein powder, applesauce, pumpkin, pecans, coconut flour, rolled oats, flax/chia blend for egg substitutes, pumpkin spice and maple syrup. All that’s missing is the diced apple, and you’re good to go!

Vegan Pumpkin Protein Power Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin (16 oz)
  • 1 cup diced apple (about 1 regular sized apple)
  • Milled flax seed egg substitute (x 2)*
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao nibs
  • 1/2 cup diced pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (Or whatever kind of flour you like/have)
  • 1 cup applesauce (~the amount in two single-serve applesauce cups)
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I used Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein in Vanilla)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

*For Milled Flax Seed egg substitute (per one egg): Mix 1 heaping Tbsp flax seed meal (or milled flax seed – it’s the same thing) with 3 Tbsp of warm water. Stir, and allow to sit while you combine all the remaining ingredients so it can “set” up. This also works with chia seeds, and I’ve used it with a pretty dope Milled Flax and chia store-bought mixture as well.

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F. Make two Milled Flax Seed egg substitutes and set aside.
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I put each of my egg substitute mixtures in their own separate small bowls so they can “set up”. To make each substitute, add 1 heaping tablespoon of milled flax into the bowl, and add 3 tablespoons of water.

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Once the warm water has been added, stir the milled flax well and allow to sit for a few minutes before adding to the batter.

Step 2: Throw all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
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Add all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl while you’re waiting for your flax seed egg subs to “set up” just right.

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Once you’ve gotten all your ingredients prepped and into the bowl, add the flax seed mixture.

Step 3: Mix all of the ingredients until all of the dry ingredients are wetted and well incorporated into the batter.
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Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients. If you batter looks a little dry, you can add a little extra applesauce or a little extra warm water – either will do the trick.

Step 4: Distribute evenly into a greased muffin tin (or use a liner). This time, I just used plain paper liners and they worked just fine.
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When forming the muffins in the muffin tin, I used a large spoon to scoop batter directly into the liners. Then, I used my fingers to press the batter down into the liner to fill it out completely. These muffins are dense, and don’t puff up as much. You’ll want to press down firm and pack them into the liner to remove any existing air bubbles and voids.

Step 5: Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
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This recipe made a solid baker’s dozen of muffins. Yum, yum!

Step 6: Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Makes approximately a dozen muffins. Enjoy!! 😀
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Once baked, the tops of the muffins should be a golden brown and a little crispy. Make sure that they are cooked all the way through or they will be mushy on the inside, and nobody wants that.

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Wait for your muffins to cool 10 minutes before enjoying! 🙂

These little guys feel like a very decadent and rich dessert, but are packed with protein and fiber to keep you full. They are perfectly sized for snacking, a quick breakfast, or a great after workout (or pre-run) snack. I currently have two in a ziploc baggie in my purse for on-the-go snacking (don’t tell anyone, because these are too good to share). 😉

I really found this vegan version to be even tastier than the vegetarian version I posted. They are a little crumblier, but they are still super moist and delicious. YUM! Grab one of these with a Chai tea, or a latte and you’ve got yourself the perfect afternoon treat. Enjoy! 😀

Hope you are all having a fantastic Tuesday, wherever you may be! 🙂 ❤

xoxox

L

Pour it up, pour it up: Chocolate-Pumpkin-Berry Smoothie with ZING

PicFrameWooo woooo, it’s Friday! It’s Friday! *Happy dance* Last night, I was on my way out the door to watch some Thursday night football and I needed something nutritious, protein and fiber filled – QUICK. Ain’t nobody got time to make a full dinner when they are running out the door wearing Zubaz pants and a Bills hat from 1982 (Thanks, Dad!). Oh, and chocolate was a requirement as well – sometimes a girl has just GOT to have some chocolate for dinner. I wanted a nice nutritious blanket of food for my vodka sodas to land on when I got to the bar 😉 . So, I basically walked around my kitchen and took a little bit of all of my favorite things and whipped them up in this SUPER RAD smoothie. PS, does anyone know when Rihanna is making new music?? I need some of that in my life, stat.

Chocolate-Pumpkin-Berry Smoothie with ZING!

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp dark chocolate cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 dates
  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ginger (I didn’t have any fresh ginger but you can def use that if you have it!)
  • Pinch of cardamom
  • Chia seeds and cinnamon, as toppings

Directions:

Add all ingredients into a blender (L’s tip: protein powder/spices blend better if they are mixed in with the fruit, try not to add them in first at the bottom). Blend until smooth. Sprinkle a bunch of chia seeds and cinnamon on top. If you’re feeling super adventurous and you love spicy food as much as I do, add one *tiny* shake of cayenne pepper to give it that extra pop (I know it sounds crazy but it is actually fantastic). Yum!

This smoothie was WICKED, and super filling. I have found the key to Smoothie Nirvana – just add spices. I’m glad I went out on a limb and started adding crazy things like cardamom and cayenne to my smoothies, they make it fresh, exciting and add such depth to the flavor. And hello – chocolate. Yes, yes, and yes! And it’s Friday! Hooray! Can anyone tell that I’m a little excited of the approaching weekend? 😛 😀

I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did last night, and have a stellar weekend!!

xoxox

L ❤

PS: I am going to have one hell of a Rihanna dance party on my long run later – I can feeeeeel it in my bones! 😛

Basic B*tch Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

photo 1Between gallivanting around Colorado two-ish weeks ago, and being a stand-in instructor for boot camp on Tuesday, I was due for a good ass kicking to get back into the training game for my upcoming half (Ok, I mean it’s upcoming in February, but I don’t want to lose my momentum now!). Well, my trainer was back from her much-deserved vacation and yesterday my ass was sufficiently kicked by the TRX band rows/T,Y,I workout, box jumps, sit-ups, and sled push (I pushed 108% of my body weight! Hollaaaaa!) – just to name a few. And then again this morning (some highlights include: lots of push-ups in different forms, and the love child of my two fave cardio exercises: box jump burpees). Needless to say, I am feeling the sores today. My foam roller and I have a hot date tooooonighttt, ow owwww!! 😉 😉

In the spirit of training, I am ready to get my head in the game. And as a vegetarian, it’s imperative that I get enough prots per day to build up those muscles (without going overboard, and drinking plenty of water so I don’t get those weird protein kidney stones – I can already hear my nutritionist prof sister Dr. J bossing informing me of the proper intake requirements). What to do? Well, I bought 10 lbs of whey protein* on Amazon prime (double chocolate and vanilla) and am going to start making some crazy smoothie creations! I’ve really been feeling the fall, and the orange foods so I figured – what the hell? I’ll try to make a smoothie that tastes like pumpkin pie. Why not.

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Ingredients: Vanilla protein powder*, pureed pumpkin, frozen banana, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice (not pictured: almond milk).

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin (I think 1/2 cup would do it, that was a little excessive)
  • 2 dates (for sweetness/fiber, can substitute 1/2 Tbsp honey)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (plus a few extra shakes cinnamon and a pinch of ginger)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (either my vanilla protein kinda sucks or that was too much – I’d try 1/2 scoop)*
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
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Before and after blending.

*Fret not my vegan loves! There are TONS and TONS of vegan protein substitutions to make. A new fave is pea/hemp protein powder. 😀

Directions:

Blend until smooth. Add almond milk to achieve desired thickness. Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice on top to garnish. Wrap on an infinity scarf, take a break from your Pinterest “Quotes” board, unwrap your hands from around your pumpkin spice latte and Enjoy! 😀

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I like my smoothies pretty thick, so I only used 1/2 cup of almond milk.

I love these smoothie creations because a) they are fantastic after working out, b) they taste like a dessert and c) they are a great way to sneak a little extra protein in your diet at the end of the day. Because I work out in the morning, get ready at the gym and go straight to work, I usually reserve smoothies for weekends after working out, during the week after a long evening run, or as a dessert treat after dinner. The recipe I made up last night is not the lowest in calories (it’s around 450 calories – oooops!), to make a “lighter” version: use 1/2 banana (53 cal), 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (50 cal), skip the dates/honey, and use 1/2 scoop protein powder (~65 cal), plus the spices, vanilla and almond milk – that should get you right around 200 calories. Even the lightened up version is awesome.

photo 2photo 3This was a definitely a successful creation – I’m looking forward to tweaking it to get that pumpkin pie flavor just right. It definitely filled me up, tasted rich, creamy and decadent, and was very on trend with Autumn. Yum. I hope you guys like it just as much as I did! 😛

Have a great one, and don’t forget to drink water ❤

L

Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Un-Salad

Despite it being a very un-autumn 81 degrees and sunny in Boston yesterday, I decided to quest on with my farm market haul roasting party. Pumpkin, beets, green beans, oh my! You also may wonder: WTF is an un-salad? An un-salad is the only type of salad that qualifies under my sister J’s personal preference requirement – a salad without lettuce/leafy greens as the primary component. Give it any other vegetable/grain base and she’s all for it. Ain’t nothing wrong with that – un-salads are salads too, man. This particular one is especially tasty, not too complicated and gets you into the autumn spirit faster than you can say “Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte!”

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Ingredients for Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Un-Salad. Disregard that tofu – I was just making my weekly ration of Best Tofu Ever simultaneously!

I also like to point out that this meal is 3 for the price of 1 (or ~3 1/2 really, with the pumpkin seeds – more on that later). You have the un-salad, roasted pumpkin and  roasted beets. They can be eaten together, separately, used in other things. You can break up the components completely and have it any way you damn well please. How fun is that? I’ll tell you how I made mine last night, and you can go from there!

Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Un-Salad

Ingredients

For the un-salad:

1 15.5 oz can chickpeas*

1 cup of barley**

~2 cups green beans, ends trimmed and sliced into halves***

1 pound sugar pumpkin, unpeeled and sliced thinly***

3 medium beets, peeled, trimmed and sliced

Optional: goat’s cheese and toasted pepitas to top it off

*Or 1/2 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in a bowl of cold water. You would drain, rinse and add these in to cook with the barley.

**Or pearl barley, but I couldn’t find that at Stop N’Shop. Or, substitute your favorite gluten-free grain!

***My pumpkin was way bigger, and I used several handfuls of green beans because I really like them – see image.

For the dressing:

3 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil*

3 Tbsp pure maple syrup

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (at least – I used much more, you can’t really overdo it)

*Usually coconut oil is solid at room temperature, I microwaved it for ~30 seconds to melt it in order to incorporate it into the dressing.

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Start prepping your veggies. Set aside your pumpkin seeds for later – we will be doing something fun with those tomorrow! 🙂

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Chop the pumpkin in thin slices. Make sure your knife is sharp enough, you don’t want to be hacking away at the pumpkin with a dull knife.

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Scoop the pumpkin seeds out and set aside. I rinsed, drained, patted them dry and put them in a mason jar to save for tonight’s recipe.

2. Meanwhile, cook the barley in a medium saucepan of boiling water, about 20 minutes or until tender. Add the chickpeas and green beans to the pan during the last minute of cooking time. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside.

3. Make the dressing: combine all the ingredients in a screw top jar, season with salt and pepper to taste, and shake well to combine. Divide the dressing into three portions.

4. Once your pumpkin and beets are ready for roasting, toss them in about 1/3 of the dressing each and place them in a lined baking dish. Make sure your pumpkin and beets are in a single layer to roast, otherwise it takes forever. Roast about 30 – 40 minutes or until caramelized and tender.

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Pumpkin slices tossed in dressing and ready to go in the oven. Once they are lightly coated, place them in a single layer – they will roast much faster.

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Beets tossed in dressing and ready to go into the oven. I sliced my beets in thin-ish slices and then quartered the slices to make them a little more “bite size” out of personal preference. As you can see, I really went for it with the fresh thyme.

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It’s totally okay if your hands make you look like an ax murderer after chopping the beets. It gets you right into the Halloween spirit! I promise it comes off (eventually).

5. Here’s where you have some options:

a.) Combine the barley, chickpeas, green beans*, pumpkin, beets and remaining dressing in a large bowl. Toss gently.

b.) Combine the barley, chickpeas and green beans with the remaining dressing and toss. Top with pumpkin and beets (keeping them separate).

I chose option b.) because I had a huuuuuge amount of pumpkin and have big plans for the leftovers this week.

*If you forgot, like I did yesterday, to add the green beans in with the barley during the last minute of cooking time, no worries! I just steamed my beans for 2 minutes and added them at the end.

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Beets roasted and ready to be chomped. Once roasted, you should be able to stick a fork through them, but they should not be total mush.

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Pumpkin slices after roasting. You should easily be able to stick a fork through these when they are done.

6. Serve the un-salad sprinkled with cheese and pepitas, if desired. Enjoy!

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Roasted Pumpkin, Beet, Chickpea and Barley Salad

I am pretty jazzed about this recipe, it’s really good. I especially like that I can pick and choose what version I want to eat when I chow the leftovers. All of the components are delicious separately, and together they are bangin’! It also looks pretty, so you can impress your friends or significant other with all your mad cooking skillz (even if you’re not really Top Chef material).

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I’m not going to lie, I put a pretty significant dent in the roasted pumpkin eating the slices straight out of the pan while I was waiting for the beets to be done. YUM!

In unrelated news, my knee is doing much better. I count myself especially lucky and didn’t push it by going to the gym this morning. Rest days are the best days, especially when you have some delish veggie sh*t to eat.

Happy Hump Day! (insert camel emoji) 😉

L

Crock-Pot Sunday: Vegan Pumpkin Chili

Fall in New England means football season. I’m not originally from Boston, but from Western New York (Or Upstate New York, depending on who you ask). The football game I’m interested in is not usually on local TV, so I have to take my bum to a bar in Boston that plays the game every Sunday. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I found that time and time again I turn to my crock-pot to whip up a delicious creation while I’m cheering on my team elsewhere. When I come home from watching the game feeling a little “jolly” shall we say, I walk through the door and dinner is already done! The greatest thing about a crock-pot is that it does all the work while you are in absentia. You throw your ingredients in, walk away for several hours and voila! Dinner is ready by the time you come back. I look forward to sharing my favorite crock-pot recipes throughout the fall and winter with you every Sunday as I make them. We can “crock it up” together! 🙂

This pumpkin chili is one of my all-time favorite fall dishes to make! It is savory and delicious, and warms you to the bones. The version below that I made on Friday is SUPER easy. It can be made in the crock-pot OR on the stove, depending on how soon you’d like to eat it.

Vegan Chili Ingredients (minus the Chipotle chili powder and carrots, which I did not end up including)

Vegan Pumpkin Chili Ingredients (minus the Chipotle chili powder, paprika and carrots, which I did not end up including)

Vegan Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

1 red onion

1 bell pepper, or several mini bell peppers

1 drizzle of olive oil

2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 jalapeño, minced

1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes

2 15-oz cans of pumpkin*

2 cups of vegetable broth

2 15-oz cans of beans**

1 20-oz package of pre-cut butternut squash

1 Tbsp chili powder

2 Tbsp Cajun/creole seasoning***

1 tsp ground cumin

Cinnamon, allspice, cloves to taste****

Lime wedges for garnish

*You can buy cans of pumpkin puree, or cut up a fresh pumpkin into chunks, steam it until tender and puree until you have 1 ½ cups. Make sure you do not get pumpkin pie filling – MAJ bad news bears!

**Whatever beans you prefer in chili are perfectly fine, but if you’d like a suggestion, half black beans and half red kidney beans make a pretty rad combo. You can substitute 3 cups of cooked beans here as well.

***Make sure there is NO salt added into these spice blends. I’ve made this mistake before and it’s a doozy!

****I’m the worst/was pressed for time and I did not measure these out. I gave a few good shakes of cinnamon and allspice, and a smaller shake of cloves. I’d say ½ – ¾ tsp of cinnamon and allspice, and ¼ tsp of cloves. You can’t really go wrong here, unless you dump the contents of the entire spice jar into the chili. You can always start on the conservative end, allow the flavors to meld for an hour or two and add more.

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I was running low on spices so I used 1 Tbsp Chili Powder, 1 Tbsp Cajun Creole Seasoning and 1 Tbsp Cajun Seasoning. Neither of those brands of Cajun/Creole seasonings have added salt, and all three were great together!

Directions

1. Chop the onion and bell pepper into pieces as big as a bean. Heat the oil and add the onions, pepper and garlic to a large skillet. Sauté them until they begin to brown, about five minutes. Transfer to the crock-pot when they are done.

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Brown up the onion, garlic and pepper. (This image is dedicated to my friend B, who may or may not be a little cooking challenged. I love you B!)

2. Rinse the beans well in colander (bonus: this removes ~40% of the added sodium!), and add them to the crock-pot. Dump the entire contents of the cans of pumpkin and diced tomatoes into the crock-pot.

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Stir it up; little darlin’ stir it up. (Singing Bob Marley while you incorporate all the ingredients is highly recommended).

3. Chop the pre-cut butternut squash into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Dice the jalapeño and add both to the crock-pot. (Wash your hands immediately after handling the jalapeño – trust me on this one).

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Chopping the butternut squash into smaller, bite sized pieces allows them to cook faster.

4. Once all of the vegetables are added to the crock-pot, add the veggie broth. Your crock-pot may be getting pretty full, so if you can’t add all of the two cups, don’t sweat it.

5. Add the spices, and stir so everything is mixed. Let those flavors meld and mingle.

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Meldin’ and minglin’

6. Now you have some choices:

  • You can cook on low for ~4 hours in the crock-pot
  • You can cook on high for ~2 hours in the crock-pot
  • You can simmer on the stove top for at least an hour, stirring occasionally

7. When the chili is done simmering, turn off the heat. Dish it up in your fave bowl, squeeze a lime wedge on top and stir. Enjoy!

Makes 4 – 6 servings, depending on how much your peeps like the chili. 😛

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I wish this blog had smell-o-vision, because DAMN is it good!

I bought pre-cut butternut squash to save myself time and the painful process of trying to peel and chop the squash in a short amount of time without chopping my finger off by accident. Whatever you’d like or have to use is fine of course! This recipe is especially great because it’s so versatile: it’s like a “choose your own adventure”! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Go Bills!

-L.

Long Run Prep – 8.6 miles with J on the Charles River

My first half marathon is right around the corner. Lucky for me, I have some amazing friends/running buddies. Tonight I’m running 8.6 miles with my friend J. Once upon a time, we were lab partners in Thermodynamics Lab, now we run along the Charles and talk about life – upgrade! It makes the runs go by that much faster when you have someone to chat with and appreciate the scenery with as you are running along.

Having views like this on my run make me fall in love with Boston all over again <3

Having views like this on my run make me fall in love with Boston all over again ❤

To start my day off on the right foot, I made my overnight oats for breakfast (See recipe here). Today I topped them off with hemp hearts, cinnamon, strawberries, banana, blueberries and almond butter. I felt that extra boost of potassium from the banana and strawberries was very necessary given the fun time I had going out with K last night (http://instagram.com/p/t-RkTUgUb7/).

Pre-run overnight oats

Pre-run overnight oats

I skipped the gym this morning to save my legs for tonight, and I always get extra hungry on non-gym days. I’ve packed myself a bunch of healthy snacks and a multiple choice lunch (I pack a little extra so I have plenty of options):

lunch

Leftover vegan pizza, Best Baked Tofu Ever, Macoun & Honeycrisp apples, plain Greek yog and a banana

It’s a good feeling to be excited about what you have for lunch. 🙂

Every Friday when I go on these long runs, it’s always a bummer to get home at around 8 pm and have nothing fun to eat. I’ve typically been making smoothies and eating toast after these evening runs – nutritious, but not very exciting. This week, that is going to change. I’ll be whipping up some Crock-Pot Vegan Pumpkin Chili tonight. (Spoiler alert: it has black and red kidney beans, peppers, onion, carrots, jalapeno, tomatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, lime and TONS of spices). After work, I’ll prep my chili in the crock-pot and put it on low to simmer for a few hours while I go for my run. By the time I come in the door, it will be ready to be housed! I’m really excited about this idea, and I look forward to sharing the recipe tonight. I’ll be putting my farm-stand bought pumpkin and butternut squash to good use, and have something warm and delicious to eat after my run. Score! The thought of a bowl of chili waiting for me is enough to help me power through those last few miles.

I hope you all have a great Friday today.

– L