Wellness Connection

Alicia Marie


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Wake Up It’s Fall

I return to my blog the first week of Autumn after almost half a year’s passing. I became consumed in interviews and adjusting to my new job at the headquarters of a prestigious local nonprofit. Prior to this I was working for the government. Biggg mistake. I was treated poorly and it damaged my self-esteem more than I could fully comprehend at the time.

My current position is a much better fit. The work can be high stress and the commute is horrible, but I have learned more than I could have imagined possible in such a short amount of time. I coordinated a team volunteer event within my first two months, co-facilitated a large meeting, went on my first mini business trip, covered for my manager while she was travelling–the list goes on!

Alicia Marie Nutrition Blog

Last week we were lucky enough to have Arianna Huffington present at one of our speaking events. Of all the inspiring wisdom she shared that day, this particularly resonated with me:

“Taking care of yourself is not an indulgence. It is a necessity.”

This was a wakeup call. And it most definitely was not a coincidence. I have been so moody, sleep deprived and down on myself for the last two weeks. The first seven days I called it hormones. After that, I knew something needed to change. Everything pointed me back to blogging.

I miss connecting with people from all different walks of life around the world, cooking and baking, photography, taste testing, reading about nutrition (just received “Eat & Run” by Scott Jurek in the mail!), sharing the vegan love, inspiring people to get outside and run—everything.

With that, I built myself a light box, found some recipes for inspiration and renovation and started cooking!

I experienced doubts building my light box. It certainly didn’t turn out as perfect as Angela Liddon’s light box in her how-to demonstration, but it serves its purpose. I can always revamp it in the future 🙂

Light Box Alicia Marie Nutrition Blog

I love how delicious that salad looks with the bright colors illuminated. I have to be honest. It tasted like shit. I literally threw in any colorful fruit or vegetable I could find to test out the power of my lightbox…no consideration to taste whatsoever (haha!)

I showed my mother a picture of my lightbox this past weekend and talked to her about really dedicating my time to blogging. She was so encouraging. It really made me feel like sometimes “mom knows best.”

I talked about how I wanted all of my pictures to be perfect, just like Angela Liddon’s gorgeous recipes on her Oh She Glows blog. I wanted to write everything ahead of time, etc., etc. The pep talk from my mom went something like this “People like to hear about failure and people like to watch you grow. It gives you more human qualities and its gives people something to relate to. Don’t worry about everything looking perfect right now—just keep blogging.”

Aww! It really inspired me to continue doing what I love most—writing and throwing myself into nutrition education, connecting with other foodies without the fear of living up to some unrealistic standard that I set for myself.

Another good point from mom, “I truly believe every woman needs her own kitchen.” And that I so agree with. It is so hard to make space for my photography and cooking when borrowing a kitchen. All I can do is work with what I’ve got and do the best I can. So that is the plan!

I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned over the past several months. It has been quite the journey and I look forward to sharing it with you again. Sneak peek to my upcoming reci-post! Any guesses?

Chickpea Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich Alicia Marie Nutrition Blog

So happy to be back!! Happy first week of Autumn 🙂

Alicia Marie Health Blog


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A Self-Love Series: #1: The Dirty D.

It is the leading cause of disability across the globe and affects over 350 million people. It takes victims of all ages. It is a precursor to disease. By 2020, the World Health Organization, predicts that it will be the second most prevalent medical condition in the world.

It is depression.

There are different forms of depression, some more severe than others. Some types include seasonal depression, situational depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and psychotic depression. Fortunately, I personally have only faced depression in infrequent, situational based incidences. Others close to me have not been so lucky.

On one occasion during my college years, a close friend texted me goodbye. It was not a conversation, but rather an apology for letting me down because life was simply too challenging to face any longer. It was clear from talking to this person that they were ready to move forward with their decision to die. Nothing I said would convince them. I called the police and was transferred to a sheriff local to that region of the country. It was a traumatic experience feeling the weight of someone’s life over 1000 miles away from me in my own hands. The pressure of determining where they could be and who I could connect with in x amount of time that might know their location was unreal. Fortunately with one of my best friends at my side while I stayed on the phone, police found my friend and took them to an overnight psychiatric center. Today this person is alive and thriving. With the tools to cope and a better understanding of how mental illness affects those around us, we can all save lives together.

Step One. Compassion is Prevention

My mantra this month is to come from a place of compassion.

I learned this one from my former boss and yoga teacher. While working at my yoga studio, there were times that communication was so poor it really affected the fluidity of the business. Clients became quickly frustrated with the unclear activation dates and program discounts. As the face of the yoga studio while managing the office, I definitely dealt with many of those frustrated clients. There was one time in particular I remember feeling so deeply agitated; I voiced my frustrations in an email to my manager. After pressing “send” I realized how easily some of the statements I made could be misinterpreted. I believe in that instance, my manager had every right to call me out and tell me what I said was inappropriate. She did not. She came from a place of compassion and told me she understood exactly how I felt and thanked me for my hard work. That was it. Well actually, she offered to meet with me if I ever needed any career guidance or mentorship in any form.  I was blown away. It made such a huge difference in my life I still think of it frequently as a reminder to always try and understand where another person is coming from before surrendering to a negative emotion such as impatience, frustration or anger. Those emotions are not productive.

Coming from a place of compassion is an approach to communication to be used in every verbal and nonverbal interaction. (EQUALLY IMPORTANT-I never use caps, they are way too intense, so this IS important: come from a place of compassion with the voice inside your own head. Be compassionate towards yourself!)

It can be difficult to remain calm and tactful let alone friendly and compassionate when speaking with someone who is being rude or disrespectful, but it is so true that you never know where the other person is coming from.

This is particularly true with depression. Depressed people can come across as mean, moody and self-centered. It can be overall difficult to carry on a pleasant conversation. On the other side of that, they may also exhibit no signs or symptoms of depression.

We learn to put on masks early on in life. Since you never really know how someone is truly feeling, in all of your interactions with people throughout the day, come from a place of compassion. It sounds too easy-just be compassionate, but what we are creating when we found our decisions and attitudes with a basis of compassion is a more supportive, constructive environment for everyone. You could be the reason someone chooses life.

Strive to make that positive connection. It could make a bigger difference than you thought possible.

I am Stronger

Step Two: Coping & Helping.

If someone discloses to you that they are depressed, their reasoning or lack of reasoning may seem silly, irrational or dramatic. Or, it may be completely understandable. It is not always easy to support your own depression or to support a friend or family member who is depressed. I have some tricks up my sleeve for coping with my own rainy days and helping others.

  1. Find Inspiration. When I found out the love of my life had cancer I found Kris Carr. She is a cancer-thriver and survivor with a kick-ass approach to life, a contagious smile and so many Youtube videos to make you feel lifted and invincible, it will knock your socks off. Find someone that moves you whether that be Oprah, Russell Wilson, Bruce Lee-you name it. Find inspiration.
  2. Watch out for toxic environments. Determine if the person suffering from depression can find a safe-haven to get away from external stressors.  If you can, offer your own place as a peaceful spot for them to stay for a night or two. If possible, try to take them out to dinner, a movie, the beach, a park, etc.
  3. Comic Relief. My personal favorite is Ellen Degeneres. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.
  4. Listen. And don’t speak. Just listen, nod and offer understanding.
  5. Meditate. For fifteen minutes a day, close your eyes and let go. While working at my yoga studio, I remember speaking with a man who told me over sex, drugs, rock and roll, meditation was “simply the sweetest serenity” he had ever experienced. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWe501bBel8
  6. Yoga. Find a reputable yoga studio where the teachers are certified with 200+ hours of training in your area to get started, then if desired make a personal practice at home. (Yoga in my experience is generally different at a gym than in a studio.) Yoga is proven to reduce stress and help you connect with your authentic self. It is a great way to prep for meditation.
  7. Exercise. Even just a brisk, ten minute walk a day will boost your mood.
  8. Get outside. It’s called “cabin fever” for a reason. I always feel more centered after going on a hike or merely sitting outside in the sunshine.
  9. Seek Counseling. I would always recommend this first over harsh antidepressants that are typically not shown to be that effective. Talking to a third party is possibly one of the hardest resources to convince a depressed person to seek out. That being said, it can honestly be one of the best tools for finding happiness when you are really just feeling like complete and utter shit for an extended period of time. It can seem daunting to disclose personal feelings and experiences to a complete stranger, but what at first seems intimidating becomes the beauty of that experience. Make sure you connect with the counselor and approve of their bedside manner before you commit to counseling sessions.
  10. Diet. Nutritional imbalance can cause depression. Eat a diet filled with an array of whole fruits and vegetables. Seriously ditch the fast food for your own sanity. And mine.  Avoid processed foods. Challenge: Can you go a day without crackers, chips, cereal, fruit cups with added sugar, energy bars, yogurt and other processed items? Try eating only whole foods: brown rice, veggies, homemade trail mix, dried fruit, homemade smoothies, hot cereal etc.
  11. Medication. I really do not advocate antidepressants very often. I know a couple of people who have found them helpful. For the long term however, I recommend lifestyle changes and a supportive group of friends and family over popping pills. For more severe forms of depression medication may be necessary.
  12. Take it seriously. A close friend of mine dealt with someone who texted her frequently stating they were going to commit suicide. Conversations between them carried on for several weeks. My friend never thought he would actually do it. His father later found his body. If someone is talking about suicide, assume that it is not for attention. I would rather be pegged as the girl who was dramatic for calling the cops than the girl who didn’t stop someone from taking their own life. Know when to dial 911 or hold an intervention.

A heavy topic today, but know that you deserve to be happy!

 

strength

 

Alicia Marie Health Blog

 

Sources:

 

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml

http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics.htm

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/


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A Self-Love Series

“If I don’t give myself time to think and dream and talk in the mirror, then I get lonely and blue. I need me.”- Kris Carr

Despite running my own blog, it really wasn’t until today that I really craved writing. I mean, seriously, all I wanted to do was drive home, grab a pen and go. Suddenly I envisioned about twenty different topics to write about related to health, but in the mental and heart-felt capacity. I will advocate a vegan and vegetarian diet probably until the day I die, but it would be silly for me to not recognize how incredibly influential peace of mind and a loving relationship with oneself dictate our overall health. On that note, I decided to start “A Self-Love Series” where I will write about finding inner peace and nurturing the relationship you have with yourself first and foremost.

Self-Love is a very important topic to me personally because for much of my life I really did not consider my own needs, dreams, fears, and individuality as parts of a unique soul that deserved love and attention.

It sounds so simple when you read it. Like, duh, absolutely you need to love yourself. My automatic response to the question “Do you love yourself?” would have been “of course.” Well, that may have been true, but that does not mean that I was tending to my own needs the way I would have to a friend or boyfriend. It is one thing to love yourself, but it is a completely different world when you spend quality time nurturing that love.

Step back and ask yourself if you tend to yourself the way you would to your significant other. Do you take yourself out on dates? Do you set aside time for yourself to do the groovy things that make you feel like you? When you are tired or stressed, do you give yourself a hug, meditate, take a bath, play guitar, or escape into your favorite book?

Or do you drink every day to take the edge off? Do you find yourself smoking to be numb? Do you work out until your body is too weak to function?

Do you answer defensively to these questions ;)?

Love is imperfect. Strive for unconditional love. Love yourself unconditionally. That is not always easy to do. We let ourselves down, beat ourselves up, rinse and repeat. Unconditional love for oneself is a work in progress and probably should be for the span of our lives. It is about learning as we change and grow and then extending that patience and compassion towards others as they embark on their own journey of self-love and acceptance.

I do not have all of the answers. I tend to struggle with unconditional love during different phases and through different obstacles of my life, but as the girl who was once dubbed “scared of her own shadow” I have transformed my perspective and developed a relationship with myself that I truly love and cherish. “A Self-Love Series” are tools and thoughts of encouragement I offer to you for those days you are down in the dumps and looking for a little pep talk to nurture your spirit and rekindle a healthy, loving relationship with your special, beautiful, deserving self.

To Love Oneself-Alicia Marie's Self Love Blog Series


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Healthy Globe Trotting for Your Family

I envision spring as a season of promise—promise of new beginnings. There is new life in the form of budding flowers, scattered sunshine, unsuspecting friendships and anticipation of adventure. Thus it seems fit to introduce a new virtual friend of my own. I am delighted to introduce, Kendra Thornton, a travel expert and dedicated health junkie in her own right as a thriving, energetic mother of three. You might recognize her as a regular presence on national stations including ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC and CW affiliates. 

Kendra Thornton

As Kendra is preparing for an adventure of her own to Orlando, Florida, we decided to put together a list of our favorite tips and tricks for staying healthy on vacation.

Grab Your Sneakers and Go!

Exploring your new home away from home on your own two feet is in my opinion the best way to find the closest and most scrumptious restaurants, one of a kind boutiques, picnic destinations, romantic strolls, yoga studios-you name it! Take mental notes and you will be so distracted by all there is to see, it won’t even feel like a workout. Whether you decide to jog around town or take a leisurely walk, if you have energy to spare after your arrival, simply moving around is a sure-fire way to reinvigorate yourself.

Market Meandering

Support your local market! Well, “local” might be temporary, but what a better way to give back to your current environment. Before your trip, spend a quick moment researching farmer’s markets in the area. Choose your snacks at the market in order to save money and eat sustainably at the same time.

Ditch Airline Food

Just say no. I snapped a picture of the long paragraph of ingredients for a chex-mix type snack on the Hawaiian Airline. To summarize, Yellow #5 was listed multiple times as were various kinds of oil and not much else. Pack your own snacks or opt for a quick stop at Starbucks before your flight. While I would not recommend most of the eye-catching baked goods Starbucks has to offer, they do offer fruit cups, parfaits, energy bars, trail mix and salads for healthier options.

Redefine Indulging and Do it Often

This is a tip straight from one of my previous posts about healthy traveling. I cannot emphasize it enough. Everyone wants to splurge on vacation and it is entirely possible to do that without feeling restricted. If you are traveling somewhere warm, let fruit be your biggest friend for your natural sugar fix. I consume fruit in two ways, as dessert and as breakfast. And sometimes dessert occurs more than once a day. I am a fruit fanatic. Ditch the ice cream, get some vegan gelato or sorbet, a protein smoothie, or froyo topped with fruit and granola. You will not regret it.


Kendra’s Words of Wisdom

Staying healthy has always been a priority for my family. I make sure the kids always have healthy snacks to enjoy when they go to school. The kids also participate in sports, and we exercise together as a family also. When vacation time rolls around, I have to incorporate new tricks to help keep everyone healthy. Check out some of these ideas to use when you go on vacation:

Pack Healthy, Dry Snacks

I always take plenty of snacks along on vacation. Mealtimes aren’t going to be as structured when we’re away from home, and snacks help keep little tummies from rumbling. They also help me refrain from overindulging at restaurants. Some of my favorite snacks to pack include homemade trail mix, granola, dried fruit and fresh veggies.

Drink Plenty of Water

Everyone in my family has a refillable water bottle that comes with us on vacation. In places like airports where we can’t bring full water bottles, I buy bottled water for the family once we pass through security. If we’ve planned a day of activities in the sun, I often chill full water bottles in the freezer before we leave. Never tell your kids they can’t have a drink of water in order to avoid potty breaks. An extra bathroom stop is much better than dehydration or heat stroke.

Family Fun Runs

When planning a trip, I like to see if any 5k runs or similar events are taking place while we will be visiting. The whole family can participate. We like to run together at home, and running together on vacation is a special treat. We get to meet new people and learn more about the community where we are staying. A lot of times there are even special races for the children under 10.

Walking

Vacation with my family always means a lot of walking. We walk around the various attractions. We also will walk rather than ride to activities. If a young one gets tired on our return to the hotel, their dad or I get an added workout by carrying him or her. We also make a game out of taking the stairs whenever possible rather than riding elevators.

Healthy options are always available. Families need only pay attention in order to take advantage of them. I know my family will be incorporating these healthy and hit practices on an upcoming trip to Orlando. With so many places to stay, it can get a little overwhelming as I like to try and book hotels that have a quality gym in case of rain. Sites like Gogobot make it easy to read user reviews so you can feel more comfortable about where you’re staying. I hope these tips help you have a healthier family vacation this year.

 

 


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Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the cookie baking, spiked holiday eggnog drinking and dessert obsessing begins. And if you are a victim to gluten, this time of year is starting to become torturous. I feel you. I usually avoid gluten 90%, but after visiting with three different types of doctors for a peculiar rash, it sounds like I need to commit to a gluten free diet 110%. I am still not convinced that that is what my body is reacting to, but I need to feel like I am doing something to stop my incessant scratching.

So I have my tunes playing (It is a Frank Ocean kind of week), I am laying in bed enjoying my three day weekend and I am sharing a bomb gluten free raw strawberry cheesecake recipe. I shared it with friends, family, and coworkers. Everyone loved it. It tastes quite similar to cheesecake, but it is fairly guilt free and it does not leave your stomach twisting and stretching the limits of your pant buttons. Who can say no to that?!

Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe

*Do note that you can substitute strawberry out for any kind of berry according to your preference.

Prep (Do this the day before you make these)

Soak your cashews in water the night before.

Soak your dates in water the night before or an hour before. 

Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake

Crust

½ Cup Raw Almonds

¼ Cup Raw Pecans

¼ Cup Raw Cashews

4 Medjool Dates (pitted and chopped)

½ Cup Shredded Coconut

2 Tablespoons Date Water

Place dates in a glass of water for at least an hour. Take the dates out of the water and set aside. Refrigerate the date water. Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until ground into fine crumbs. Add the dates and coconut. Coat muffin pans with coconut butter or earth balance. Press the nut-date mixture into the muffin holders. (Doing it over I would use the back of the muffin pan as they would be much easier to take out!) Press mixture evenly and place in freezer for two hours.

Gluten Free Raw Vegan Cheesecake Recipe

Filling

½ cup Raw Cashews (soaked over night)

1 Cup Strawberries

2 Tablespoons Date Water

2 Pumps of Liquid Stevia (or other sweetener of choice)

Pinch of Salt

1 Tablespoon Raw Coconut Butter (melted)

Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe

Remove cashews from water and add to food processor. Pulse cashews until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients except for the coconut butter. Gradually pour the melted coconut butter into the food processor and pulse until the mixture is consistently smooth and creamy.

Remove crusts from muffin pans and spoon strawberry mixture into the crusts. Freeze strawberry cheesecakes for at least an hour. Garnish with berries. Fill your tummies happy.

Gluten Free Vegan Raw Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe


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Halloween Goblin Goop Energy Bars & Yoga Surpises

Goblin Goop Bars

I finally made it to yoga! I anticipated being on the struggle bus since the instructor today was one of the senior instructors known for the fire she brings to class. That, and the fact that I have not been able to practice much since I injured my hip a third time after my half marathon in June.

The class sequence was exactly what I expected. Chaturanga after chaturanga and then plank position and HOLD. And then it was move onto your right elbow, left elbow, back into plank repeat. So essentially a series of pushups integrated into yoga practice. And crunches later. And side planks. You get the picture.

Prior to class I foresaw myself taking several moments to transition into child’s pose while all of the other students continued with their warriors, crows and half moons. I would be laying on my mat in shavasana convincing myself that I was actually ahead of class waiting for everyone else to catch up.

But it was not that hard for me! I felt strong. And surprised! So this is what happens when you become better at listening to your body and give it the rest it deserves 😉 I felt that my practice was even better than it was before, as if I am starting on a clean slate. I only hope that I will continue to find good news as I strive to reach the level of exercising I was committed to before my injury. I think between my chiropractor and my adoration of crafting new kinds of nutritious fuel for my body I should be okay.

I will often joke that yoga makes me hungrier than running. Well, it does. After practice I want comfort food, chewy food, energizing food and healthy food that will not counteract all of the wonderful things I just did for my body and mind.

For a before or after yoga snack and of course for Halloween, try these Goblin Goop Energy Bars.

 

Goblin Goop Energy Bars

1 Cup Cashews

5 or 6 Medjool Dates, Pitted

1 ½ Tbs. Cocoa Powder

3 Tbs. Green Powder ( I used Amazing Grass Raw Reserve)

¼ Cup Coconut

2 Tbs. or ¼ Cup Almond Milk (optional-depends on the consistency you want. More liquid means it will be ground much finer and goopier)

Soak dates in a cup of water and set aside. Pour cashews and coconut into food processor. Grind until finely chopped. Add cocoa powder and green powder to mixture and grind briefly until mixed. Takes dates out of water with a spoon and add dates and almond milk to the food processor. Grind until dates are evenly mixed with the ground nuts and powders.

Scoop mixture out of food processor and spread evenly in a small glass pan. Cover and put the pan in the freezer for 2 hours.

Take pan out of freezer and cut goblin goop into 10 even squares.

Goblin Goop Bars

Nutrition: 106 calories each, 2.8 grams protein, 6.4 grams fat

Highlights: 22.8% vitamin A

“Vitamin A fights cancer by inhibiting the production of DNA in cancerous cells. It slows down tumor growth in established cancers and may keep leukemia cells from dividing.” (Source.)

  • Keeps skin healthy
  • Keeps mucus membrane cells healthy (this makes cells more resistant to bacteria, viruses, and cancer)
  • May relieve eye dryness

Give them a whirl. They give you instant energy!

Alicia Marie Health Blog


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Beginners Luck & Birthday Cupcakes

I adapted a recipe for chocolate cinnamon cupcakes with spiced buttercream frosting and candied walnuts. My taste testers agreed the fluffy chocolatey yumness was a success. You know you have found yourself a treasure when the entire bowl and spoon are worth licking. Admittedly I am quite proud of myself for the way they turned out. This is partly because it almost feels like a joke trying to replicate the gorgeous recipes from one of my favorite bloggers, Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows. My stomach can personally vouch for her talent in writing recipes. All of her foodie pictures completely seduce me. She is my go-to girl for finding recipes for special occasions.  Or any occasion actually. I count “I’m hungry” as a pretty good “occasion” to get things rolling in the kitchen…

This particular occasion was my boyfriend’s birthday! 24 baby! I asked him to describe his favorite dessert and he told me he liked treats that are fluffy or with chocolate. So of course I gave him both.

The changes I made to this recipe included added mini chocolate chips to the batter, cardamom to the candied walnuts and cardamom and quite a bit of additional sugar to the frosting (it tasted a little to creamy for my palette and not quite sweet enough without the added sugar), and substituted  coconut butter for the canola oil. I also changed the order for making the  different parts of the cupcake so that by the time the cupcakes are cooled off you can immediately start frosting them and topping them with walnuts.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used unsweetened Ghirardelli)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used mini)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 & 1/8th cup sugar
  • 2.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (Grate fresh nutmeg if you have never done so! Amazing!)
  • 1 & 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8th cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter
  • Spiced Buttercream Frosting
  • Candied Walnuts (see below)

Cupcake Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cupcake pan.  Mix dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg) in a large bowl. In a medium bowl mix wet ingredients (water, vinegar, coconut butter, and vanilla). Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon. Fill each cupcake tin about 1/2-2/3 full ( I filled them halfway and wish I had done them 2/3 full.) Bake for about 20 minutes and as Angela recommends: until the cupcake springs back slowly when pressed. She also advises you to be careful as it is easy to overbake these.

While baking, prepare your candied walnuts.

Angela’s Easy Candied Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted

Candied Walnuts Directions: Preheat oven to 275F. Spread 1 cup of walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes being careful not to burn. Remove walnuts from oven and baking sheet. Place walnuts in a large bowl and set aside. Turn the heat to medium and add remaining ingredients to the pot. Stir ingredients and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat to a simmer stirring frequently to ensure that the sauce does not stick or burn.  Continue stirring the mixture for about 5 minutes. Mixture will become airy and thicken. Remove pot from stove top and IMMEDIATELY pour mixture into a bowl. Begin stirring immediately. The mixture will start to harden instantly.  When all walnuts are coated with mixture, place walnuts back on baking sheet. Break apart walnuts to individual pieces so that they are no longer clumped together. Set aside candied walnuts.

How to make Candied Walnuts

Begin making frosting!

Spiced Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance , softened
  • 2 ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp almond milk

Frosting Directions: Stir earth balance vigorously or whip with mixer. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom and almond milk.  Stir or whip with mixer a second time.

Frost your cupcakes, top them with your candied walnuts, give them to your favorite person and eat them yourself 🙂

Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes with Spiced Buttercream Frosting

Happy Fall!!

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