Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I can’t get enough of this recipe. There are some gluten-free muffin recipes that are noticeably gluten-free. The texture of the muffin will be too dense or too dry…but not these. I brought these into an office potluck and no one knew they were gluten free. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. So if you’re looking for a good muffin to have with coffee, or as a dessert, or just because you want to indulge in some pumpkin-y goodness, try these!

I found this recipe on Paleomg’s website: http://paleomg.com/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-muffins/

Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup pumpkin puree (I used canned)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or ¼ nutmeg, ¼ ground cloves, ⅛ powdered ginger)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips (try this brand if you want a soy-free option, otherwise any brand will work)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix together wet ingredients in a bowl: pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla extract
  3. In another bowl, whisk together coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, powdered ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  4. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well
  5. Fold in chocolate chips
  6. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Use an ice cream scoop to one scoop of batter per muffin
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes

Tip: After the muffins have cooled I store them in a container and then keep them in the fridge. If they’re left at room temperature they tend to dry out a little after a day, but if they’re refrigerated they stay pretty moist.

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Maple Bacon Pecan Roasted Butternut Squash

Before this year the only squash I had ever tried was pumpkin (that I can recall, anyway). This year I feel like I’m on a roll. I’ve cooked with pumpkin, spaghetti squash, and now butternut squash! I’ve found squash to be quite the comfort food. I like that it can be used in savory dishes as well as sweet dishes.

I found this recipe on the Paleomg website: http://paleomg.com/thanksgiving-side-dish-maple-bacon-pecan-roasted-butternut-squash/

It’s so easy to make and it makes for a great side dish!

Maple Bacon Pecan Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 pieces of bacon
  • 5 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2-3 tablespoons bacon fat
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt (I didn’t add any salt because I felt the bacon was salty enough)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place strips of bacon on a foil lined baking sheet
  3. Cook bacon for 20 minutes. Bacon should still be slightly soft (not crispy) when you pull it out of the oven. Remove from baking sheet to cool on a paper towel lined plate. Chop bacon into small pieces once cooled. Place the rendered bacon fat in a large bowl.
  4. Add the cubed butternut squash, pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt to the large bowl with the bacon fat.
  5. Mix together to coat the squash well. Add pieces of bacon to the mixture and mix well.
  6. Add mixture to a 9×11 glass baking dish.
  7. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  8. Place dish in the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes (depending on size of cubed butternut squash) or until squash is soft.
  9. Serve immediately.

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And here it is paired with an Italian seasoned chicken breast and asparagus!

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21 Day Cleanse Follow-up

Well guys, I have to own up to the fact that the 21 Day Cleanse was pretty tough. I didn’t make it the full 21 days but I did learn some valuable lessons from the experience.

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I would like to try the 21 Day Sugar Detox from Balanced Bites again in the future. It was a good experience to add more vegetables to my diet, but it was difficult to limit fruit to one banana or one green apple per day. I love fruit. Berries, grapes, apples, pears… I could eat them with every meal. So that was difficult but at least it made me realize that I don’t need sugar with every meal.

Remember those Young Living products I was going to use? The ParaFree softgels and DiGize essential oil? They were an intense addition to the cleanse. The softgels were like swallowing potpourri. Spicy, cumin-flavored potpourri. After you took one (if you could stomach swallowing it) you’d taste it in your mouth for hours afterward. I also tried to drink the DiGize essential oil in a glass of almond milk (as recommended in the Young Living book)…nope, couldn’t do it. It was too strong to drink so I just applied it topically.  And just as a reminder, DiGize is an essential oil blend of: tarragon, ginger, peppermint, juniper, fennel, lemongrass, anise, and patchouli.

So those were a little intense but I did like the addition of probiotics to my diet! They were easy to take and my digestive system felt more “settled” overall.

Another thing I also enjoyed was dry brushing. It was an easy and surprisingly relaxing way to exfoliate and stimulate the lymphatic system to aid in good, overall health. All you need is a dry, boar-bristle brush and about 10 minutes per day to lightly “brush” your skin, paying special attention to areas that have lymph nodes (neck, collar bone, under-arms, etc…).

The one thing I didn’t try? An epsom salt bath. I kept meaning to try it then I’d run out of time in the evening. I still plan on trying it in the near future though so when I do I’ll report back!

Even though I didn’t make it through the full 21 days of the cleanse, I did feel better overall toward the end. Cutting back on sugar, utilizing essential oils, and dry brushing are all things I’ll continue to do in the future.