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Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food

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Harvest season is upon us, and one of autumn’s most beloved harvestable foods is the pumpkin. This infamous orange gourd tastes great in just about everything, from savory meals to desserts. Best of all, it has numerous health benefits. It’s rich in fiber, which can slow digestion; it’s high in vitamin A, boosting eye health; improves immunity; can help you achieve younger-looking skin with its high beta-carotene content; and may even lower cancer risk. If you love all things pumpkin, try these six delicious fall pumpkin recipes.


Pumpkin Carrot Cake Cupcakes

If you’ve got a hankering for carrot cake, indulge in this sweet treat by pairing it with pumpkin pie spice. This twist on the classic carrot cake recipe is loaded with veggies, fruits and nuts. It also uses a tofu cream “cheese” frosting, although you can certainly use the real thing if that suits your tastes better.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I hope you saved those seeds from the pumpkin you carved last week. This delicious and super simple recipe makes a roasting pan filled with sweet-tasting pumpkin seeds. The blog post also includes a link to a recipe for spicy pumpkin seeds.

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte

The seasonal drink that has everyone most excited for scarves and boots, this pumpkin spice latte recipe is organic, dairy-free and sugar-free. Use coconut milk and stevia to create a PSL that’s delicious and nutritious.

Pumpkin Pie

A Thanksgiving classic, this pumpkin pie recipe features a jazzy cookie crust as well as a rich topping.

Pumpkin Scones with Cranberries

Brighten up your brunch with this seasonal favorite. Stuffed with pumpkin and cranberries, this crumbly scone is both sweet and savory.

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup

Butternut squash, another seasonal favorite, pairs especially well with pumpkin. This low-fat soup is filled with heart-healthy antioxidants, carotenoids and bioflavonoids. Have fun with the presentation by serving the slightly sweet concoction in miniature pumpkins—your guests will love it!


I’ve had a hankering for carrot cake for a few weeks now. I was too busy baking pumpkin this and spiced that to cure the craving. The other day, I held open the pantry door and stared at probably 10 cans of pumpkin purée and my ever-growing collection of alternate flours, along with the other dry goods on the shelf. Seeking inspiration from all of my friends in the cabinet, I began to dream about the carrot cake again. I love its hearty garden-filled cake and would gladly indulge in cream cheese frosting anytime.

Day dreaming away, I took a second glance at the row of canned pumpkin. “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” I’ve been making pumpkin versions of everything else in the world, why not carrot cake? And just like that, the spirit of fall was still alive and a pumpkin carrot cake was born.

Still riding on my grain-free wagon, I made a flourless version. It’s also gluten-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free. I used a tofu cream “cheese” for the frosting, which is amazingly similar to regular cream cheese. If you steer clear of soy, your favorite cashew cheese recipe would work just fine. And of course, traditional cream cheese frosting would pair well if you prefer. I load my carrot cake up with a hefty amount of veggies, fruits and nuts, but you can substitute or add in anything you’d like. Carrot cake is really a “kitchen sink” kind of thing. That’s what I love about it.

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe 

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe

For the cake:

• 3/4 cup coconut flour
• 3/4 cup almond flour
• 5 small (or 3 large) carrots, peeled, grated
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1 cup shredded coconut
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 cup pumpkin purée
• 1 cup Grade B maple syrup
• 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained well
• 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
• 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 5 eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with papers or grease with coconut oil.

2. Sift the coconut and almond flours into a large bowl.

3. Add the grated carrots, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, shredded coconut, raisins and walnuts, and mix with a fork to thoroughly combine. Set aside.  

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée, maple syrup, pineapple, ginger, coconut oil, vanilla and eggs.

5. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir with a spatula until combined.

6. Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon to divide the batter into the cupcake pan. The batter should fill each tin to the top.

7. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

Note: If you’d like to bake a cake instead, grease two cake pans with coconut oil and divide the batter evenly. Bake for 1 hour.

For the frosting:

• 8 ounces tofu cream cheese (or regular cream cheese)
• 1/4 cup raw honey
• Pinch ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup almond milk

1. Using an electric mixer, whip all ingredients together until smooth. Should only take 30 seconds to 1 minute.

2. Frost the cupcakes after they are completely cooled. Cupcakes will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Carrot Cupcakes Aerial

Pumpkin Carrot Cupcakes
Photos by Rachael Bratene

Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog, Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.


A grain-free diet is becoming increasingly popular. It’s common to also be dairy-, soy- and refined sugar-free. Some make the full leap to the Paleolithic diet. There are dozens of reasons why people hop on this wagon: autoimmune disease, autism, mental health, fitness goals—the list goes on. Recently, I told my story about a health battle and my decision to go grain-free, as well as my commitment to raise my daughter the same way.

Coming from a classically trained chef, former pastry chef and bread-lover, going grain-free sometimes has its disadvantages. I’ve been restricting gluten from my diet for years now. But going-grain free is one step further and I found myself missing certain items. The hardest to give up at first were the gluten-free breads and pastas that had already found a permanent spot in my pantry. While experimenting with grain-free baking is as thrilling as “regular” baking, it does tend to exclude familiar tastes and textures.

I began to think of staples I could create, make at home and have on hand. “Granola!” I thought to myself, knowing a good granola doesn’t last long in my house. There are a few grain-free granolas on the market out there today that are excellent, but they are hard to find. Also, granola is always something I suggest people make at home, as you can customize it to your liking and add ingredients that benefit you and your personal condition.

Grain Free Granola
Photo by Malorie Davis

This is the recipe I created and find myself recreating again and again. The recipe makes a brown-bag full and I breeze through every batch. It pairs nicely with almond milk, or your choice of yogurt and fruit. I even enjoy it as a snack on its own, or on top of almond milk ice cream. Mine includes chocolate, because I’m a chocoholic. You can substitute berries, if you’d like. It’s also loaded with healthful nuts and seeds, which always makes me feel my best. Try this one or make your own version. Either way, it’s a healthful and simple homemade recipe you can keep going back to.

Granola With Berries
Photo by Malorie Davis

Chocolate and Coconut Grain-Free Granola Recipe

• 1 cup sunflower seeds
• 2 tablespoons chia seeds
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 cup coconut flakes
• 1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
• 1/3 cup raw honey
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Toss ingredients in a bowl to thoroughly combine. Make sure the honey is distributed evenly.

3. Spread out the mixture on a baking sheet in a thin layer. 

4. Bake for 10 minutes, or until coconut flakes begin to slightly brown.

5. To store, this will keep in a brown bag or glass jar for several weeks. 

Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog, Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.


There’s something about cooked plums that makes me weak in the knees. Sure, biting into a ripe plum at the peak of the season, with the juices running to your elbows and the tartness hitting the front of your tongue, is a blissful experience. But something about the richness and depth of a cooked plum makes it a whole new and delightfully thrilling eating experience. It still reminds me of a beautiful stone fruit freshly picked from a tree, yet it takes on a more luxurious texture and taste. Cooking with plums offers a smooth, rich and sweet taste, along with a tart flavor that comes at the end. When paired properly with spices, the bar gets raised even higher. 

I have an aunt in Northern California who grows her own plum trees. She’s also a wiz at canning and preserving foods. Wouldn’t you know, she makes the most delicious plum jam I’ve ever tasted. That jam is perhaps what made me fall in love with plums. I don’t attempt plum jams or jellies because I know I won’t come close to how I remember hers. But I cook with plums any other way I can.

I’m coining the term “Butter Baby”. It’s a combination of a Dutch Baby and a Tart Tatin. It’s also gluten-free. Essentially a pancake batter baked in the oven, it begins with a generous amount of butter, which reminds me of the French technique. I make these at home often and they’re always a hit. A “Butter Baby” can be made with any fruit and alternate flours. The “traditional foods” lifestyle is gaining a large amount of followers and bringing health enthusiasts back to butter. This recipe is an excellent way to make use of your pasture butter or ghee.

Since it’s the peak of plum season, I bought a large amount of plums at the farmers market with the intention of making more than one recipe. I made stewed plums with the rest, which is quite similar to my aunt’s plum jam but simpler and made with honey instead of sugar. I like to keep various stewed fruits in my home. If I have leftover seasonal fruit, I make a small jar of stewed fruit to use in place of jam. I use it to top oatmeal, porridge, yogurt or breads. It’s healthy, easy and always a great addition to my weekly menu.

Plum Butter Baby
Photo by Malorie Davis

Plum “Butter Baby” Recipe

• 1/2 cup brown rice flour (You can substitute wheat flour or buckwheat flour.)
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup almond milk (You can substitute whole milk.)
• 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 5 to 6 small plums (or any other fruit), sliced
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• Pinch ground cloves
• 6 tablespoons butter or ghee
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, cornstarch, honey, salt, vanilla extract, eggs, almond milk, coconut oil and lemon zest. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, toss the sliced plums with the cinnamon and ground cloves. Set aside.

4. In a cast-iron skillet, dollop the butter or ghee around and drizzle on the maple syrup. Arrange the plums in a single layer over the butter and syrup. Heat the skillet over medium until the butter is melted and the syrup begins to bubble. Turn off the heat, and pour the batter over the plums.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and looking crisp. Cut into pie slices and serve.

Stewed Plums
Photo by Malorie Davis

Stewed Plums Recipe

• 6 plums, sliced
• 2 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons honey
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Place all of the ingredients in a cast-iron or heavy-bottom pot and stir with a wooden spoon. Heat over medium-high with a lid on, and cook until the plums become tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Remove the lid, stir and cook for 5 minutes more, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the consistency is fairly thick.

3. Store in a glass jar. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife, and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.


Editors PickPopcorn can be a healthful snack that is low in calories and chock full of nutrients, including fiber. But not all popcorn is alike. That extra-large tub of heavily buttered popcorn from your local movie theater will not offer such health benefits. In fact, a medium tub at Regal—the country’s biggest movie theater chain—has 1,200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat, according to a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. So much for low calorie!

Other problems surrounding popcorn are the nasty culprits known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Studies have shown GM foods to cause allergies in some people, and a more recent study showed that GE (genetically engineered) foods may have detrimental effects on immune function. The majority of GM foods end up in processed foods, which can make avoiding them difficult—especially for corn. Corn is one of the five most-common GM crops (beet sugar, canola, soy and cotton are the other crops), as it’s estimated that 90 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is from genetically modified seed.

To help you healthfully get your popcorn fix, we’ve taste-tested a wide variety of natural popcorn and selected six of our favorites. Whether you’re a stovetop purist, prefer the ease of microwavable bags, or simply want a bag of pre-popped corn for traveling purposes, we’ve got you covered. Hit play on your DVR, grab a blanket and cozy up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn from one of these popcorn companies.

Best Natural Popcorn Products

Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Popcorn

Best old-fashioned popcorn: Many microwaveable bags of popcorn are loaded with partially hydrogenated oils and artificial flavorings. Ditch the microwave and embrace the superior flavor of air-popped popcorn. Using a store-bought popcorn machine or simply your stovetop, preparing these kernels is easier than it may seem: here is a great instructional article. We recommend swapping peanut oil with flax seed or coconut oil, and adding in a little sea salt. These GMO-free popcorn kernels from one of our favorite companies pop evenly and are fresh tasting. Best of all, it has a high nutrition score of 10 from GoodGuide, an organization that rates hundreds of companies on their health, sustainability and social attributes.

Cost: 1 pound bag; $3

Farmer Steve’s Microwave Popcorn

Best microwaveable basic: No need to worry about preservatives, artificial flavorings or hydrogenated oils with this GMO-free product. Produced on a small family farm in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, Farmer Steve’s popcorn is certified organic. Lightly salted for extra flavor, these microwaveable bags are easy to use, and the popcorn makes a great base for any seasoning combinations you can come up with.

Cost: three 2.8-ounce bags; $5

Quinn Popcorn Parmesan & Rosemary

Best microwavable flavor: Like Farmer Steve’s, Quinn produces GMO-free microwaveable popcorn sans artificial ingredients. The bag is also compostable. Simply pop the bag in the microwave then, after it has popped, sprinkle it with the handy little seasoning packages that come in the box. We particularly like the Parmesan & Rosemary flavor. It’s addictively salty with just a hint of rosemary.

Cost: two 3.5-ounce bags; $5

Popcorn Indiana Sriracha Popcorn

Best pre-popped flavor: Spicy and satisfying, this bag of popcorn really captures the sriracha flavor with seasonings green pepper, red pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Best of all, this product scores fairly high on the GoodGuide nutrition scale (7.5) and is made with non-GMO canola oil. Full disclosure: Even though the company is committed to the Non-GMO Challenge by providing a transparent listing of ingredients, this particular flavor is not made with GMO-free corn. For a completely non-GMO treat from Popcorn Indiana check out their Fit Popcorn with sea salt, which is also delicious.

Cost: 6-ounce bag; $5

BoomChickaPop Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn

Best kettle corn: Crunchy with the perfect blend of sweet and salty, this lightly flavored kettle corn is a great snack for any on-the-go outing. You can also keep it in the pantry for an easy-to-reach snack for the kiddos. This Minnesota-based company makes this product with whole grains, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO.

Cost: 7-ounce bag; $4

Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Puffs

Best take on popcorn: If you are craving something that seems a little sinful, then grab a bag of these vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO cheddar puffs. This puffy concoction is a cheesy delight—just make sure to wash your hands afterward! Pack them for lunch, take them with you on a road trip, or bring them along on a picnic.

Cost: 4-ounce bag; $4


Food sustains us, quite literally. We have to feed our physical bodies, of course. But real food is so much more than that—we also want to nourish our family bonds by eating meals together. We want to tend to our land, caring for it to reap the bounty of produce in return. And we want to provide sustenance to our souls, by observing—and participating in—the cycle of life right in front of us as we move through the seasons.

Quick Fix Foods
Photo by Thomas Gibson

1. Mix It Up

Antioxidant Trail Mix

High Antioxidant Trail Mix stars a yummy blend of organic, non-GMO pumpkin seeds, almonds, goji berries, raisins and mulberries.

TO BUY: 1-pound bag: $13.50 from GrandyOats

2. Sesame Street

Whole Wheat Sesame Sticks

Switch up your snacking with Whole Wheat Sesame Sticks, free of synthetic flavors, colors, preservatives and additives.

TO BUY: $3.50 from NOW Foods

3. Choice Chips

Green Mojo Chips

Mild yet bursting with flavor, Mild Green Mojo chips are the perfect salty snack. Late July is a family-owned business and its chips are organic and non-GMO.

TO BUY: $3.50 from Late July Organic Snacks

4. Lil’ Sprout

Sprouted Wheat Bagels

With organic whole-wheat berries and no added sugar, protein-rich Sprouted Wheat Bagels make for a satisfying breakfast.

TO BUY: 6 bagels: $3.50 from Alvarado Street Bakery

5. Glorious Grains

Organic Grains

Table-ready in 60 seconds, these pouches of tasty organic grains, legumes, vegetables, spices and herbs are nutrient-dense, ideal for a weekday lunch.

TO BUY: $4 from Made in Nature


As the summer season winds down, harvest your herbal bounty and use its fresh leaves in a tasty vegan dip. This Creamy Herb Dip is simple to make—and difficult to stop eating! Filled with protein-rich cashews and the health wonder coconut oil, this raw vegan dip can be ready in under five minutes. Use a high-speed blender, food processor or immersion blender to mix, then serve as a dip with Mary’s Gone Crackers Curry Pretzels or another one of your favorite gluten-free pretzels or crackers. This recipe can also be used as a spread for rice cakes, toast, pita bread or flat bread for wraps. Best of all? It’s gluten-free!

This recipe comes courtesy Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Creamy Herb Dip 

Creamy Herb Dip Recipe

• 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 3 hours and drained
• 1/3 cup almond milk
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• 1/2 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
• 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
• 1 tablespoon fresh chives
• 1 tablespoon fresh basil
• 1 garlic clove, peeled
• Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a high-speed blender, combine cashews, milk, lemon juice and vinegar until smooth.

2. Add coconut oil and blend. Then add herbs, salt and pepper, and pulse briefly.

3. Refrigerate for several hours or until set.

Mary’s Gone Crackers is committed to manufacturing the best-tasting, wheat-free and gluten-free baked goods using the highest quality, organically grown ingredients.

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