Pumpkin Banana Walnut Bread (No Added Sugar) and a trip to See Canyon

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Welcome to Fall, my friends.

In order to celebrate, I decided to dig up an old recipe that was once gifted to me. I tested a few adjustments just to celebrate the beauty of the season (and perhaps use up the rest of my can of pumpkin puree)–it turned out better than I imagined! The muffins have a light, spongy texture that contrasts well to the dense crunch of walnuts and carob. Adding apple cider from the local See Canyon Fruit Ranch offers just the right dash of sweetness, without the need for extra sugar. The recipe can also produce a wonderful loaf, which loves to be warmed and doused in a buttery spread or fruit compote.

Thank you to this lovely orchard, which inspired me to turn the oven back on in the spirit of the season. It’s only a few miles up See Canyon Road in Avila Beach, Calif. I left with apples, cider, almond brittle, and a few beautiful photos.

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Real connection, and why we fail at it

2016-01-17 11.43.59.jpg“Tell your partner your life story in 30 minutes.”

Two hours later, I knew him. I saw him from a different perspective–years deeper.

Two hours later, he knew me too.

I once stumbled upon the New York Times article “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This”. It was an intriguing title to say the least. It outlined the experience of one woman mimicking an experiment on interpersonal closeness. The original experiment used questions, ranging from superficial to probing, to see how close they could bring two strangers together.

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Curried Sweet Potato Pie with Coconut Crust (Vegetarian, Vegan/GF options)

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If the idea of a pie for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert excites you, then you simply must try this recipe. The combination of sweet potato and coconut gives the dish a rich, sweet flavor that seems decadent and dessert-like. The onion, curry and green beans make this pie diverse in both flavor and nutrients.

This recipe features whole-food ingredients and no added sugars. It is vegetable-dense and flavor-rich, contributing a hefty dose of beta carotene (for vitamin A), vitamin C and other antioxidants. A few simple recipe tweaks listed below can even make it gluten-free or vegan.
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How to soothe an upset stomach…by being a BRAT

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It’s Dead Week at Cal Poly, also known as the last week before final exams. The skies turn darker, Starbucks employees set up hourly barricades–and to be perfectly honest, the campus resembles one of the more grotesque scenes from The Walking Dead. Just as the undead plague spreads across post-apocalyptic America, so spreads a host of other unwelcome illnesses for us:

Cold
Flu
Fever
General disorientation

…and the stomach virus.

If you are one of the unfortunate few experiencing the pleasant sensations of sudden nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, you may want to consider adopting a short-term BRAT diet.

(Me.)

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Cuban Black Beans and Rice with Caramelized Banana (Vegan, Gluten Free)

IMG_20160303_130728My Brazilian godmother helped to raise me on black-bean-and-rice dishes like feijoada completa, yet I can’t recall how exactly I found this one. The caramelized banana adds a creamy complexity to a dish that already shines in its simplicity. A more traditional version uses fried plantains, which complement the usual savory flavor palate. I personally have an incurable sweet tooth.

You can either top the dish with banana, or mix it all together. The only thing you can’t do is go wrong.
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Carrot Apple Ginger Soup (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Paleo)

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If dairy isn’t a part of your diet, it can be hard to find a dish to satisfy those creamy cravings. That’s why I was eager to try this recipe adapted from Oh She Glows and Joy the Baker. Thanks to the addition of coconut milk, you can once again indulge in a hearty soup on the coldest days.

This soup has a texture reminiscent of butternut squash soup, with a tangier taste and spicier finish.

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