Five Tips for a Happy and Healthy Plant-Based Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday. We take time to be with our loved ones and be thankful for our relationships, our health, and our opportunities. It’s a time to celebrate the harvest and all of the wonderful flavors and colors and textures of autumnal foods – and the best part? All of the best fall foods are plant-based! And there are plenty of ways to celebrate and incorporate them into the holiday season.

With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to give some of my best holiday tips so that you can feel joyous about the holiday and celebrate what Thanksgiving means to you while still doing what feels good for your body.

Here are five tips for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving:

Have fun planning a menu. Don’t limit yourself by thinking only of traditional foods. If you’re cooking for a larger group and they’re expecting their holiday favorites, there are ways you can emulate those foods with a healthier recipe, like mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. But if your guests are adventurous, go outside the box! There are tons of amazing seasonal recipes you can make to celebrate harvest time without loading them full of meat and dairy, but you could also look to other cultural dishes to really explore the world in your menu.

Invite people who share your values. This might be easier said than done! It can be a fun way to recharge with people who actually share your values and will appreciate every second you put into planning and cooking for them. People are often busy visiting their families, but with many people living far away from loved ones, an invitation to a fun plant-based holiday gathering can be a great thing.


Start a new tradition. I love this! Traditions can be anything, whether it’s Frisbee in the park, watching a certain movie, or silly things like hiding something that everyone has to try and find. Have fun with it. If you’re not sure what to do, look up traditions of other cultures and use it as a teaching lesson for your kids.

Spend time with your loved ones creating memories. What may just be a silly song or movie time or a walk through a pumpkin patch today, could end up being one of our most cherished memories. Remember that the holidays aren’t just about food. It’s about spending time with your loved ones, celebrating the reason you can come together, and being thankful for what your blessings.

Take time for yourself! It’s not uncommon for us to spend so much time trying to make an enjoyable experience for our children and loved ones that we end up exhausted at the end of the day or weekend. Make sure that you have time to unwind. Get in a workout, meditate, and relax. Whether you enlist help making food or spend some time prepping for your meal in the days before, do what you need to do to keep from getting burned out and overscheduled during the holiday.

Keep in mind that your holiday can still incorporate your healthy habits. There’s no reason why post-Thanksgiving fun can’t be a walk around the block or an hour at the park. You can even pick up a football and play together! The most important thing is to take this time to recharge and take time to feel the joy of gratitude for your blessings, the things you’ve worked hard for, and the people who love you.

Here’s my favorite holiday recipe for Cauliflower Mash to get you inspired for your plant-based Thanksgiving!


Cauliflower Mash

• 1 lb. bag frozen or fresh cauliflower
• 1/4 cup fat-free soymilk
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
• 1 tsp poultry seasoning
• 1 tsp nutritional yeast
• 2 Tbsp cornstarch
• 2 Tbsp water to mix with corn starch
• 1 Tbsp fresh parsley

In a pot, steam cauliflower for 10-12 minutes or until very soft. Drain well using a colander. In a saucepan, combine soymilk, garlic, 1/4 cup water, Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning and yeast over medium heat. When it begins to boil, slowly mix the cornstarch/water mixture into the sauce, stirring constantly until thickened.

When cauliflower is cool enough, squeeze as much water out as possible. Place the cauliflower in the processor or high-powered blender and blend for about a minute. Add sauce and fresh parsley to cauliflower and process until creamy and smooth. If it’s too thick, you may adjust the consistency by adding a little bit of soymilk. Makes 4 servings.

Holiday Table

Vanessa Chamberlin is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Lifestyle Coach and author of The Fire-Driven Life: How to Ignite the Fire of Self-Worth, Health, and Happiness with a Plant-Based Diet. For more information, please visit, www.vanessachamberlin.com and connect with her on Twitter, @vkchamberlin.

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Butternut Squash, Chestnut and Herb Filled Puff Pastry Hors d’oeuvres


Butternut Squash, Chestnut and Herb Filled Puff Pastry Hors d'oeuvres

Now that autumn is in full swing, and with the holidays fast approaching, now is a good time to take advantage of the harvest fruits and vegetables that are readily available.

Below is a recipe that incorporates some of the seasons most flavorful foods – Butternut Squash and Chestnuts. Yummy!

Butternut Squash, Chestnut and Herb Filled Puff Pastry Hors d’oeuvres

Yield: About 24 pieces


  • 1 butternut squash, about 3 lbs. (you can also use kabocha)
  • 2 Tbs.  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 jar or package peeled chestnuts (5-8 oz.)
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 cup coarsely chopped fresh ciilantro
  • 1/8 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 package frozen puff pastry (Suggestion: DuFour, which is an all-butter puff)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon water

Make the filling:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Top and tail the squash, halve it crosswise, put each piece flat-side down on the cutting board, and peel with a knife. Remove the seeds, then cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.  Place in a large bowl, toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and season lightly with salt & freshly ground pepper. Spread on a parchment-paper covered sheet pan. Roast 20 minutes, until the squash is tender and starting to brown. Add the chestnuts and roast an additional 2 minutes, just to warm them.

While the squash roasts, make the sauce by combining the ingredients in the food processor (start with the smaller amount of lemon juice, and half a teaspoon of salt; you can always add). Pulse to puree to a sauce consistency.

Toss the squash with the sauce, and allow to cool. If you’re making these hors d’oeuvres ahead, you can finish the pastry, fill the cases and freeze. Just remove from the freezer and reheat to serve.

For the puff pastry cases, raise the oven temperature to 375°F. The pastry sheet should be well-chilled so thaw it in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Unfold the sheet, use a rolling pin to even it out and thin it slightly. Use two square cutters (try a three-inch and a 2 1/4 inch) to first cut the larger squares, then the smaller square inside each one. Once you get them all cut, refrigerate for 10 minutes. Once chilled again, brush the edge of the inner square with the beaten egg, and carefully fold the large square over it, so that the corner of the large square meets the edge of the small, doing this twice so that you have a high-sided case. Where the two sides cross, the corners will be a bit thicker. Brush the whole case with a little egg wash, refrigerate again for 10 minutes, then bake until lightly brown and puffed up. As you take them from the oven, squish the centers down to form the cup for the filling. Let cool, then heap in the squash mixture. Reheat before serving.

This recipe is compliments of Paulding & Company.

Founded by mother-daughter duo Terry and Tracy Paulding, Paulding & Co. is a commercial kitchen and instructional/event space that specializes in creating innovative event ideas for families and corporate entities through public cooking classes and exercises. Located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay area, Paulding & Company inspired Disney/Pixar animators for the Ratatouille film and director Clint Eastwood for several projects.

To learn more including a schedule of upcoming classes visit www.PauldingandCo.com.

Do you have any special reciepes that you enjoy making this time of year that takes advantage of the season’s harvest fruits and vegetables? Feel free to share the recipe with me and others in the comment section of this post.



*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. 

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Celebrate the Day of the Dead with fun FREE crafts and activities


1445467406-DOD Box Art

Are you familiar with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)? It’s a holiday that is celebrated in Mexico and other countries to honor our loved ones who have passed on. The Day of the Dead starts on October 31st and ends on November 1st.

Day of the Dead might sound really creepy – especially given that it falls on Halloween. But it’s not meant to be scary. Day of the Dead is meant to celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have passed away and to help them on their spiritual journey. In a way it’s a lot like All Saints Day which falls around the same time.

To help you celebrate I have some fun FREE activity sheets you can save, print out and enjoy with your family, including more information about the holiday.

The activity sheets feature characters from the film The Book of Life.

Here is some information about the film just in case you haven’t had a chance to see it yet.

The Book of Life is a breathtaking animated comedy with a dazzling visual style unlike anything you’ve seen before. Torn between the expectations of his family and the desires of his heart, a young man named Manolo sets off on an epic quest that spans three spectacular worlds in order to reunite with his one true love and defend his village. Not your ordinary fairy tale, The Book of Life is a wondrous fantasy-adventure filled with magic, music and fun! THE

The Book of Life Blu-ray™ brings culture and comedy into your home with unforgettable special features for parents and kids alike. Continue the fun with an all-new bonus short “The Adventures of Chuy”, highlighting the film’s lovable scene-stealing pet pig. Additionally, relive the musical hits from the film with the “Music Machine” featuring Latin-inspired versions of popular songs by Mumford & Sons, Radiohead, Elvis Presley, Rod Steward and more!

Look for the film where ever movies are sold.

Below are the activity sheets. Simply click on the photo for a larger version then save on  your computer.

DOD -- Learn About





DOD Face Painting 1

DOD Fiesta

DOD Games

DOD recipes

Face Painting

For more fun check out the hashtags #BookOfLife, #DayoftheDead and #DiadeMuertes on social media.


*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers. 

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Cooking with… Dr. Pepper?


Dr Pepper

I may not be the world’s greatest cook, but I do like to try out new recipes. My family is bored with eating the same dozen meals week after week. I’m always looking for delicious new recipes to try out.

I have a lot of wonderful cookbooks. I also love to search the Internet for recipe ideas. Pinterest is one of my favorite “go to” places for recipes and inspiration.

Most recipes that I stumble across have “normal” ingredients in them (herbs, spices, eggs, oil…). Every now and then I come across one that has an interesting and unique ingredient.

I’ve heard that you can make recipes with soda. I have never personally tried any, but I know it’s possible.

I was surprised to find out that there are A LOT of recipes – from beverages to main meals to desserts – using Dr. Pepper.

I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Pepper. We don’t drink much soda at home. We usually only enjoy it when we are at restaurants or parties. If Dr. Pepper is on the menu I will choose that over other soda brands/flavors.

I was sent several yummy sounding recipes utilizing Dr. Pepper as one of the ingredients from Rite Aid, as part of their Rite Aid Network. I was challenged to pick up some Dr. Pepper at my local Rite Aid store and create a recipe or two using Dr. Pepper. Challenge accepted!

There are many recipes I wanted to try. Some were very easy – others were a bit more “involved.” I know what my family likes, and doesn’t like, so I chose recipes that I knew would be a hit with my family.

The first recipe we tried was the easiest – an ice cream float, or a “Frosty Pep” as it is called. The reason why I chose this one is because we had Family Movie Night the other night for Jurassic World. I knew my family would LOVE a treat like this.

Frosty Pep

Frosty Pep Recipe

We had some Jurassic World cups that worked perfectly for this recipe.

As you can see it gets a bit foamy. I just waited for the foam to settle down before adding more Dr. Pepper.

The recipe called for cold Dr. Pepper. Our cans were not that cold. I don’t know if that had something to do with all the foam. It’s OK because once the foam died down we were ready to enjoy our drinks.

The next recipe I tried was Hot Dr. Pepper. This recipe sounded very interesting to me. I always enjoy soda ice cold. I couldn’t imagine drinking Dr. Pepper HOT.

Hot Dr. Pepper

Hot Dr. Pepper Recipe

Hot Dr. Pepper Recipe 2

This recipe might sound odd, but let me tell you it’s SO GOOD!!!

Dr. Pepper, when warmed like this recipe calls for, takes on the flavor of a sweet tea. You can still tell that it’s Dr. Pepper, but it also has a tea-like flavor. The lemon adds to the tea-like flavor too.

I loved this recipe so much that I fully plan on enjoy it again and again. I went out and bought a few lemons just so I can make this again. It’s a great cold weather beverage to warm you up, especially if you are not in the mood for hot cocoa.

Speaking of Hot Cocoa, there is a Dr. Pepper recipe for that too. I had purchased some of the ingredients to make this at our local Rite Aid, but I haven’t had the opportunity to make it yet.

Dr. Pepper Cocoa

I have all the ingredients, including marshmallows. Maybe I’ll make it for our next Family Movie Night this coming Friday or Saturday night.

Dr. Pepper is not just for beverages and desserts. You can also make entrees with it as an ingredient including Marinate Chuck Roast, Skillet Burgers, Browned Beef Stew, Barbecued Spareribs, Double-Deck Hamd with Cheese ‘n Rye, Roast Turkey or Chicken with Herb Bread Stuffing, Dr. Pepper Glazed Ham, Gingered Pork Chops and the recipe that I tried – Glazed Chicken ‘n Rice.

Glazed Chicken and Rice

Glazed Chicken and Rice Recipe

Chicken and Rice Recipe

Chicken and Rice with Dr. Pepper

There is one thing I did wrong with this recipe. Instead of butter I used Country Crock, which much have a higher water content because instead of being like a glaze the sauce was too runny. Don’t get me wrong – it tasted great (adding the ginger was a perfect touch!), it was just more liquidy then I had anticipated. The next time I make this I will use butter like the recipe calls for. Aside from that this recipe was delicious. My entire family enjoyed it – even my husband who tends to be more picky then the kids.

I also used boneless, skinless chicken. I don’t think that mattered with this recipe. I just chose that option because I prefer boneless, skinless chicken.

Who knew that one of my favorite beverages could be used to create so many mouth watering recipes.

Dr Pepper Lip Smacker

If you are a fan of Dr. Pepper too, you should check out Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers. They taste just like the soda! You can have kissable, soft lips in your favorite soda flavor. I keep the lip balm in my purse so I can use it on the go. I need lip balm, especially this time of year.

You can find Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker products at your neighborhood Rite Aid store, as well as Dr. Pepper soda and some of the ingredients you’ll need to make delicious recipes.

To find a location near you visit RiteAid.com. You can also find the brand on social media. Also, if you are not already a Plenti and Wellness+ member you should join. It’s FREE and  you’ll get so many wonderful perks and discounts.

For more information about Dr. Pepper visit DrPepper.com. The brand is also on social media.

Have you ever created a recipe using Dr. Pepper as one of the ingredients? If so, I would love to hear about it. Feel free to share the recipe in the comment section of this post.




*I have partnered with Rite Aid and Dr. Pepper to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Quick and easy dinner ideas from Cathy Mitchell’s Dump Dinners


Grilled salmon with vegetables

Do you ever get bored with what you serve for dinner? I sure do – and so does my family. I tend to stick with the same meal options. Every day I say to myself I need to make something different.

I have a lot of recipe books – and there are plenty of great recipes I would like to try out. The problem is that I just don’t have the time to measure and weigh things, not to mention buy ingredients that I don’t normally have on hand. I need recipes that are simple to make.

I started a new job last month so I went from working in the morning to working in the late afternoon. By the time I leave work, pick my daughter up from her job, and get home it’s already 5:30 – 5:45. My husband gets home from work at 5:45. Most of the time he’s starving so I don’t have time for something that has a lot of prep work. I need something I can literally throw together and can be on the table in around 30 minutes or less.

Are you familiar with author Cathy Mitchell? She wrote the book Quick & Easy Dump Cakes. I wrote about her book last year. You can read the review here – Cathy Mitchell’s Quick & Easy Dump Cakes.

The term “dump” might not sound appealing – but it’s not as weird as it sounds. By “dump” Cathy is referring to dumping things into a pan, pot or dish without the need for weighing and measuring.

Cathy has another book with is very similar except this one focuses on main meals. It’s appropriately entitled Dump Dinners.

Dump Dinners Cathy Mitchell

Photo Source: Dump Dinner Facebook Page

Dump Dinners is the same concept as Dump Cake – it’s meals with require few ingredients, little to no prep work and can be on the table in around 30 minute or less (some might take a wee bit longer).

Dump Dinners features around 250 recipes including soups, stews, main meals, breakfast, appetizers – even recipes for larger crowds.

Some of the recipes you’ll find within the pages include;

  • Chicken Tortellini Bake
  • Orange chicken
  • Deep Dish Pizza
  • Minestrone Soup
  • Beef & Broccoli
  • Meatball Casserole
  • Meatloaf “Muffins”
  • Mexican Pizza
  • Lettuce Wraps
  • Fijitals
  • Lasagne

and much more!

One of the easiest recipes I have tried is lasagna. I would never attempt to make lasagna the traditional way. It just seems like a lot of work and too time consuming. The Dump Dinners recipe is so much easier. All you need is pasta sauce (jar), frozen ravioli (beef or cheese – we used cheese), shredded cheese and spinach (optional). Just like you would with a lasagna you simply layer the ingredients (sauce, ravioli, spinach, cheese… repeat). Then pop it in the oven and bake for the recommended time and BOOM! Lasagna! To be honest with you it tastes just like a traditional lasagna. You don’t notice the difference in taste (you do notice the ravioli but that doesn’t effect the taste at all).

One of my favorite things about the recipes in this cookbook is that many recipes that would call for a traditional dough are replaced with pre-made biscuit dough. It makes things a lot easier and quicker. In the past I would make my own dough. Now I use canned biscuit dough for a lot of recipes I’d make my own dough.

Photo Source: Pillsbury

Photo Source: Pillsbury

In addition to the recipes you’ll find pages with short cuts and substitutions, money saving ideas and make ahead recipes for things like chicken, beef and eggs.

You can also check the back of the book for a specific ingredient and it will give you the page number/numbers of the recipe/recipes that utilize that ingredient.

You can do the recipes “as is,” but I prefer to adapt them to my family’s preferences. I add my own seasoning (mostly black pepper, garlic and occasionally onions). You can also add in a few ingredients you feel would add to the recipe. Most recipes are very flexible allowing you to make them your own.

The only thing about the book I wish was different was the number of photos. There are only a few pages with color photos. I prefer to have photos of all the recipes (or at least most of them). I like to make sure the finished product looks the way it’s supposed to. Not only that, I am more likely to try a recipe when I can see it then just reading it off a page.

If you would like to learn more about this book visit BuyDumpDinners.com. You can also check out Dump Dinners on Facebook.

This book would make a great addition to your cookbook library. It would also make a great gift for newlyweds, new home owners, a college student or someone who simply doesn’t have the time to cook extravagant meals.

Do you own this book or any other book from Cathy Mitchell? What do you think about “dump” cooking and baking? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

Dump Dinners Skillet Recipe

Photo Source: Dump Dinners Facebook Page


*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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YouTube – Your One Stop Shop For Halloween Ideas



Trick or treat! It’s October and that can only mean one thing. It’s Halloween — everyone’s favorite creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky time of year.

YouTube is THE destination for Halloween, from dramatic makeup transformations with Kandee Johnson to SoCraftastic’s clever DIY decorating ideas and yummy treats via MyCupCakeAddiction and Rosanna Pansino. Plus, Halloween costume ideas from #1 style and beauty YouTuber, Michelle Phan and popular YouTube teens Brooklyn and Bailey.

This year people have been searching on Google for that perfect costume, for the latest Google Halloween costume trends, click here: g.co/frightgeist.

Whatever it is, YouTube has got you covered this Halloween.

Tasty Halloween Recipes

  • Rosana Pansino (+4M subscribers & +1 Billion views) – Rosanna of  “Nerdy Nummies” has the most popular cooking show online. Watch as her and fellow YouTubers MyLifeAsEva bake Costume Quest 2 Halloween treats.
  • MyCupCakeAddiction  (+2M subscribers & +269M views) – Elise loves to create amazing cakes, cupcakes and sweets. She had the opportunity to team up with R.L. Stine aka Jack Black to create 3 amazing spooky treats to celebrate the new Goosebumps movie and Halloween!
  • LaurDIY (+2.4M subscribers & +115M views) – Toronto based DIY and lifestyle YouTuber, Lauren, whips up chocolate covered pretzels that look like pumpkins, creepy oreo eyeballs, and Halloween kabobs.
  • WhatsUpMoms (+725K subscribers & +170M views) – This channel is produced by moms, and they aim to inspire, inform, and make people laugh. This Halloween they are showing us how to make yummy chocolate apples!

Make-Up/Costume Ideas

  • Michelle Phan (+8M subscribers & +1.1 Billion views) – #1 beauty YouTuber, Michelle Phan, gives us clever and hilarious Halloween costume ideas from Tinder to Grumpy Cat and even a Belfie.
  • Kandee Johnson (+3.2M subscribers & +344M views) – Youtube makeup, style and fun guru, Kandee Johnson, is here to help you transform into female kick-butt superhero,  Wonder Woman.
  • Grav3yardgirl (+5.8M subscribers & +824M views) – Bunny Meyer is a quirky and fun YouTube beauty guru.  Watch her transform into Sarah Sanderson from Hocus Pocus. Plus, check out these Halloween-esque shoes she unboxed!
  • Brooklyn and Bailey (+1.9M subscribers & +206M views) – Need a Halloween costume but aren’t feeling creative? Check out Brooklyn and Bailey’s 28 last minute Halloween costume ideas including favorites Minnie Mouse and Minions.
  • Glam&Gore (+956K subscribers & +53M views) – Glam&Gore describe their channel as “the swiss army knife of makeup tutorials.” Pay close attention because they can help you turn into Harley Quinn this Halloween.
  • rosaliesaysrawr (+217K subscribers & +6M views) – Rosalie is her name and YouTube is her game with videos ranging from DIY, Fashion and Challenges. Want your beloved four-legged friend to dress up with you this Halloween? Rosalie has the perfect costume; Red Bull and an angel costume.

DIY Halloween Decor/Craft Ideas

  • SoCraftastic (+1.2M subscribers & +131M views) – This DIY arts & crafts channel will show you how to make a glow in the dark pumpkin.
  • WhatsUpMoms (+725K subscribers & +170M views) – From a spooky terrarium to a reusable glow and the dark trick or treating bag, these moms show us how to do Halloween right.
  • JustLikeThat (+404K subscribers & +29M views)  – These group of girls bring new videos each week and showed their viewers how to make a Halloween candy centerpiece, festive drinks and balloon art.
  • Karina Garcia – (+390K subscribers & +20M views) – Karina Garcia loves sharing DIY videos and review. This month she shows us how to create gross eyeballs in a jar and a spider web “night light.”

Do you have a favorite YouTube channel that you turn to for holiday/seasonal ideas/recipes? If so, please leave the link in the comment section so me and other readers can check it out.



*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers.

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