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Plant-based Recipes: Jolly Treats Can Be Healthy

Nov 30, 2021 ● By Annette Licitra
Pumpkin Chili

Photo credit Annette Licitra

As colder temperatures are settling in, what’s better to do than cozy up on the couch to watch a movie with a hearty bowl of pumpkin chili, a hot cup of decadent sipping chocolate and a plush, warm blanket. Not everyone gets a cold or the flu during this time of year, but it’s best to be prepared and support that amazing immune system of ours so we can enjoy the holiday season.

One important way to ensure that we stay strong is lowering refined sugar intake. This might sound a bit crazy, given that there are so many tempting foods during the holidays, but it isn’t as difficult as you may  think. Finding delicious recipes that replace refined sugar with natural sugar is key.

Enjoy the chilly nights at home with these tasty twists on classic warming recipes. We’re taking chili to a new level by keeping it plant-based and tossing in some savory winter squash and sweet potato. In addition, we’re switching up the sugar in this rich, hot, sipping chocolate from refined sugar to honey (or maple syrup—your choice). Same great flavors … unique ways to change them up. Give these recipes a try and most of all … have fun with them.
Pumpkin Chili with Cashew Cream Topper
yield: 4 servings
cooking time: 2 hours (to soak cashews) and 45 minutes
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 Tbsp unrefined, virgin coconut oil
2 red peppers, deseeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, diced
6 cups organic vegetable stock
1 cup tomato puree
½ cup canned pumpkin
2 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans,
     drained and rinsed
½ cup cashew cream (recipe below –
     make ahead of time)
Toppings (optional): cilantro, avocado,
     extra cashew “sour cream”, jalapenos
Cashew “Sour Cream” Topper
1 cup raw cashews, soaked
Juice of ½ lemon
1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 pinch sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup unsweetened nondairy milk or water
For cashew cream:
Soak cashews in water for 2 hours.
Drain, rinse and add to a blender or food processor with all other ingredients. Alternatively, add all ingredients to a deep bowl and puree with immersion blender.
Blend until well combined and creamy. Taste and adjust as necessary.
For chili:
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.Add peppers to pot, and cook for another 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir with spatula, and cook for 1 minute, taking care not to burn.
Add butternut squash, sweet potato, vegetable stock, tomato puree, canned pumpkin, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and salt. Bring to a boil, and cook butternut squash and sweet potato until soft.
Turn down heat to low, add white beans and cashew cream, and simmer for 15 minutes to slightly thicken and let flavors develop.
Remove from heat, and divide into 4 bowls. Add toppings and enjoy.

Photo credit Annette Licitra

Hot Sipping Chocolate

This is free of gluten/wheat, corn, soy, eggs, dairy, canola oil, refined sugar. One can also use as a chocolate dipping sauce for strawberries, bananas and other fruits.
yield: 1-2 servings
cooking time: 5 minutes
8 fl oz (1 cup) 100% coconut milk
4 Tbsp raw cacao powder
3 Tbsp high-quality honey
Add all ingredients to small saucepan, then whisk, and simmer over low heat until just melted. Pour into a mug and enjoy.
Annette Licitra is an integrative health coach, wellness chef and the founder and owner of Passionette Palate, in Winfield. For more information, email [email protected], visit and follow her on social media.