Vanilla-Scented Butternut Squash + Pear Soup with Cashew Creme

Here's another post I did for Sakara Life. Click the link at the bottom for the recipe!

I made this soup on the first day of fall, with sounds of a football game coaching me in the background, and it could not have been more satisfying. Now by football I of course mean reruns of Friday Night Lights, because let's be serious, I have no desire to watch an actual game. But I can get into all the other stuff that goes along with being a sports fan, mainly eating and hanging out with friends before Monday morning ruins everything. I should let you know now that my friends and I have serious Monday anxiety. We try our best to take advantage of those two days of freedom, and promise each other to not bring up the "M" word until late Sunday night. But sometimes, your laughing with your favorite people on a Saturday night, and it sneaks up on you. That overwhelming feeling that it's almost over. I guess if we didn't put in so many hours during the workweek, the weekend wouldn't feel so great - yeah right. 

I guess once the initial shock of my alarm clock wears off, I'll have a bowl of this soup to look forward to for lunch. Packed with carotenoids, potassium, and vitamin B6, butternut squash is a powerhouse autumn staple, and lends itself nicely to both sweet and savory partners. I love combining it with salty feta and soy sauce, but with the abundance of pears and apples at my fingertips, I sweetened things up a bit this time. Warming spices were a no-brainer as was the maple syrup, but I got fancy with the cashew creme and vanilla bean. That's what weekends are for though - wearing platforms and cooking with fifteen dollar sticks of vanilla. This was actually my first time making cashew creme, and now that I have, I can see it becoming a regular menu item. First of all, it could not be easier, but most importantly, it's delicious. Use it anytime a recipe calls for cream, in place of yogurt, or even thinned out a bit and blended into your morning smoothie. Besides being my favorite nut, cashews are high in copper and magnesium, which both do great things for your hair, skin, and bones. Now pour yourself a bowl of soup, set aside a few hours to get to know your DVR, and enjoy sweater weather. Happy fall!


Apple Pie Smoothie

I recently started an internship at a pretty amazing company, Sakara Life, and I've been really focused on creating recipes and blog posts for them, which is why I've been slacking here on Buff Chickpea. Sorry about that, but I promise to share the love. Sakara Life created an organic meal delivery program based on a whole-food, plant-rich diet. Their focus is on helping people take their health back through nutrition, while supporting local farmers and fostering a sustainable environment. The company is based in Brooklyn, New York, and is 100% female-owned and operated. Besides creating and delivering delicious, organic meals, Sakara Life is all about educating people on the amazing things a whole foods diet can do for your body and mind. And if you're not lucky enough to live in New York and have access to this program, they offer downloads for a 3-day detox and a guide to snacking, as well as a detox tea (all purchased through their website). If you're interested in what I've been contributing, which I hope you are, you should really check out their blog. It's filled with superfood recipes, healthy living advice, and interesting articles worth sharing. I thought it would be nice to share my Sakara posts on Buff Chickpea as well, in hopes of spreading the health. You can find the recipes over on the Sakara Life blog. Enjoy!

Barrels of apples at the farmers' markets can only mean one thing - fall is coming (it's already here!), and I am so ready for a change of scenery (quite literally). I've been overheating for the past two months, counting down the days until I can hurl my short shorts and teeny bikinis into storage until they sneak up on me again next summer. Is it strange that I'm excited to wear pants? Pants, layers, boots, neutrals, scarves, perfect hair days - fall has really got it going on. But besides being a season for fashion, the change in leaves also brings with it some pretty delicious food. Pumpkins, pears, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables, pomegranates, dates, and apples are just a few reasons to start this autumn inside your kitchen. The bright reds, oranges, and yellows of the trees are echoed at the farmers' markets during this season of feasting. The air is getting crisper, and it's a perfect time to slow down a bit, and reconnect with your health after spending your summer hopping from one party to the next. I don't know if it's because only a few years ago I'd also be getting ready for school around this time, but I like to think of September as the start to a new year. And this year, I'm taking full advantage of local and seasonal produce.

One of the first activities I plan for September is a weekend trip to an apple orchard. Being a New Englander, I reserve the right to complain about the majority of our seasons, but if we've done one thing correctly, fall is it. Pumpkins are ready for carving, cider for sipping, and trees for picking. There are a good number of apple farms on the South Shore, where I reside, but I usually head north for more of that "Hocus Pocus," storybook fall scenery. This year, I found myself in Ipswich, MA at Russell Orchard. Set on 120 acres of land, Russell Orchard is a full scale fruit farm, complete with a storefront offering up one of the most delicious apple cider doughnuts I've yet to taste. The thing I love most about this orchard is their minimal use of pesticides. They are not certified organic, but many of their gardening practices follow USDA guidelines, and some of their pest management systems mirror those found in the organic register. Now when it comes to produce, I almost always buy organic, but it's pretty darn hard to find an organic pick-your-own apple orchard, and it's one pastime of mine that I will never give up. Apple picking is about connecting with nature, supporting your local farmers, and reminiscent of a time when life was not so hectic. Get a group of like-minded autumn aficionados together and get pickin'!

I know most of you will fill your bags with sweet thoughts of apple pie in your near future, but my obsessive urge to turn any and all desserts into a frozen beverage does not stop with pie. Apples are full of disease fighting compounds and antioxidants, and are perfect eaten raw or stewed into homemade applesauce. They're full of fiber, detoxifying, immune boosting, and even help to whiten teeth. Drowning them in sugar is sure to combat all of those stellar health benefits, so why not try a delicious and drinkable frozen apple pie. I promise it will satisfy your sweet tooth. And if you're still craving a slice come morning, try this vegan caramel apple pie, it's right where I'm headed next!

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