Pumpkin Carob Pancakes with Tofu Cream

Fall is here and while I’m slightly in denial because of recent 90 degree days here in Pittsburgh, there’s no denying that Pumpkin Spice has made it’s grand return to the foodie scene.

Here’s my quick & tasty contribution to Fall flavours.


1 cup Annie’s Organic Pancake Mix

1 cup pumpkin purée

1 tbsp homemade vanilla extract – MY RECIPE HERE

2 tbsp homemade pumpkin spice – MY RECIPE HERE

1/4 cup carob chips

Water as directed

Tofu Cream

5 oz soft tofu 

1/2 cup aquafaba

1 tbsp liquid stevia

1 tsp ginger powder

2 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 cup water 


1 cup oats

1/8 cup pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp maple syrup 


Cakes: Mix pancake batter powder with all wet ingredients, slowly adding lukewarm water until batter consistency is thick on the VERGE of runny….set aside. Once toppings are created heat pan to medium/medium-low temps and pour out 3″ pancakes & drop in carob chips. Allow to bubble on one side, then flip. 

Cream: Place all cream ingredients in hand blending vessel OR small mixer and mix for 2-5 minutes to achieve whipped topping consistency. Variance will be noted on kitchen temperature as related to aquafaba.

Granola: In pan on medium low heat add coconut oil with maple syrup & mix, add oats and toast for 3-5 minutes and at last moments add pumpkin seeds and toast for 1 minute or so. Sprinkle with cinnamon at very end.

Lastly, top pancakes with cream & sprinkle with spiced oat mix.

Makes approximately twelve 3″ pancakes.

Food Medicine Fact: Pumpkin

  • The potassium contained within pumpkins can have a positive effect on blood pressure.
  • The antioxidants in pumpkin could help prevent degenerative damage to the eyes.
  • Avoid canned pumpkin pie mix, as it typically contains added sugars and syrups.
  • Uncut pumpkins should be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months.
  • Pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin can be used as a replacement for butter or oil in baking recipes.



Soy free, gluten free, dairy free, cruelty free….GUILT FREE (sort of)…seasonal FUN pumpkin cheesecake. Unfortunately, this recipe is about 8 years old and I couldn’t find an image of it…haven’t made it in quite some time SO please enjoy the image from Fat Free Vegan…this is about as close as a picture I could find.

You’ll need a 9-inch spring form pan for this recipe.

1 cup superfine sorghum flour
½ cup arrowroot powder
½ cup pecans, finely ground
1 to 2 teaspoons Sasha’s homemade pumpkin spice (link below)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons coconut oil (room temp)
5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon maple syrup

½ cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup raw sprouted/soaked cashews
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon  lemon juice
1.5 teaspoons Sasha’s homemade PUMPKIN SPICE

Cook quinoa & rinse in a fine mesh strainer under running water for a minute. Then place quinoa and  2 cups of water into a small pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cook for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat.

CRUST: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line  spring form pan with parchment paper.

In  mixing bowl whisk together the sorghum flour, arrowroot, ground pecans, pumpkin spice, and sea salt. Add coconut oil and cut in with your fingers or a pastry cutter. Then add water and maple syrup. Quickly mix dough with a fork. Form into a ball. Press dough evenly into bottom of spring form pan.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

To make the filling, place the pumpkin, cashews, maple syrup, lemon juice, and spices into a high powered blender. Then add the cooked quinoa and blend again until ultra smooth. Pour filling into cooled crust.

Let cheesecake set at room temp for 1 hour,  cover and transfer to the fridge at least 3 hours or overnight.

Client Spotlight – The Vegan Activist – With Leila H.

Drumroll please!

Introducing Leila Sleiman-Head. Friend, client, Vegan and Activist. Leila and I met through my participation in her event VegFest here in Pittsburgh. I signed up to be a presenter at the event and we hit it off. Leila, along with Natalie Fristick, put on VegFest annually in Pittsburgh as well as the fall fave VegFeast. These two also run Justice for Animals, a not for profit here in PGH. To add, Leila has been part of Scrap The Trap and helped to get the first ever Vegan night at PNC Park off the ground! Veganism and the MLB at Pirates stadium??? Yes, yes she did. Pfew – I’m probably missing a TONNE.

She’s a devoted dog mom to Cash, and hamster mom to Little Tom Cruise and is married to the talented musician Chris Head, guitarist for Anti-Flag a local Pittsburgh Punk act that is adored globally. Chris is a maker of some VERY cool hand crafted planters via their collaborative effort as Rustbelt Workshop. I don’t know where she finds the time, but she does and the world is a better place for it.

Thanks Leila for this candid interview and for all you do for the animals.

Love ya!

When did you first participate in a demonstration or activism and why?

I interned for Peta in 2005 as a way to “get out of the classroom” in college when I was attending ASU- I was MORE than happy to GTFO of college, fly to Norfolk VA, live in “the intern house” and ready for an adventure. I went into it not knowing what to expect, not knowing I would need to be vegan in the house (I was already vegetarian so figured it shouldn’t be too hard, plus I had other interns show me the way….). I was immersed in this HUGE organization, with hundreds to people dedicated to helping animals, delivering straw and houses for dogs in the winter, under covering horrible abuse situations, sending packets to companies who test on animals to suggest kinder and more modern ways to research….  it was all so foreign to me. I was asked to go on a tour 2 weeks, 25 cities- we started in Miami and looped back up and around to Norfolk. It changed my life.

How did you choose animal rights as your passion as opposed to other arenas like women’s rights, environmentalism etc…?

I started with human rights activism- I would protest the Israeli occupation in Palestine and any other worthy cause, women’s rights supporting planned parenthood etc. When I spent my internship at Peta I was horrified to find out the grand scale of oppression and suffering we are causing on animals- and it was SO easy to change that behavior, support other companies, etc. It just naturally became another worthy cause…and now I have gotten to travel all over the country with it. I’m a very lucky person to be able to live my passions and ideals.

What is the most challenging thing you have experienced as an activist?

You really put yourself out there as an activist- and it isn’t for everyone. I have had people try and prove you wrong at every turn- justification of the bible or another imaginary justification, etc. I welcome a good discussion. I’ve also had chicken nuggets, eggs, soda, etc thrown in my direction and been threatened with violence. It is very impactful when you think about how much you must threaten peoples “way of life” (consuming and causing suffering) some people just cant take it.

How do carry yourself during a demonstration? Have you ever been arrested or come up against physical violence?

Yes! In North Dakota at a circus protest a middle aged man raised his hand at me- I thought he was going to hit me, I quickly said “IF YOU TOUCH ME ITS ASSAULT!” Lol. I’ve had everything under the sun thrown at my group, things yelled out, etc. But you also have people giving you the thumbs up- honking, supporting you. And those who will stop and chat or take information that REALLY ARE OPEN and effected.

What are your personal reasons for transitioning from Vegetarian to Vegan?

My time at Peta opened my eyes- to the GRAND SCALE OF OPPRESSION AND SUFFERING. I thought I would go back to vegetarian after I left the intern house in 2005- I never did. Once you see the animals suffering, open your heart to empathy and compassion and see how easy a few changes in your lifestyle really are- there is no way I am supporting that. We can vote with our dollars- we can choose to support cruelty- or not. We can choose to be kind. I just absolutely under no circumstances wanted to support the industries that harm animals. Giving up dairy was a small price to pay. So what? Watch the footage of veal calves getting ripped from their mothers, from pokey things put through their noses so when they try to nurse it hurts and pokes the mother causing them to run away…. watch the screams of the babies getting torn away to suffer the mothers fate if a female or a cramped cage for veal if a boy. No thank you.

Can you tell us a bit about your time with PETA?

See above lol

How can the average human get involved and become an activist? How do you think they should choose which organization or cause to support?

There are so many great organizations doing great things, some right in your city, I urge everyone to do some research and volunteer their time- donate- collect items for animals in need, etc. Spend the day at a VegFest, commit to going vegan for 30 days, do not buy products or cosmetics tested on animals, to stop buying leather, etc.

If you had advice for any new Vegans, what would it be? 

Don’t be overwhelmed. Do your research, ask for help from others who are already vegan (stay off FB lol), and PREP. When I was vegan we had cereal with soy milk and PB&J, and until I found other things to eat that is all I ate. Now with the internet and online recipes its easier than EVER to eat healthier and find good vegan food for your family, purchase cruelty free products, etc.

What are your top 3, all time favourite Vegan spots to eat? 

Hard one! I am lucky enough to have eaten great vegan food all around the world.

Champs in Brooklyn, Mohawk Bend in Los Angeles, Chicago Diner in Chicago make the list. In Pittsburgh we have Onion Maiden and B52 Café which are some of my favorite food.

Any pet peeves you’d like to share with us about Veganism or Activism?

I don’t want to criticize so I will start by saying we need ALL forms of activism and all kinds of personalities in this fight. I do find that newer vegans are a little angry (as they should be), I don’t necessary feel that walking into a whole foods just to get kicked out is beneficial for the animals, I don’t like buying into the stereotypes that non vegans put on us. I prefer to surprise people with education and discussion. Some acts people do are more self masturbatory than helping in my opinion.

If you could solve ONE issue on the planet today, what would it be?

Factory farming. Its destroying the planet, its causing needless suffering and animal products are making Americans some of the most unhealthy in the world. If I could close my eyes and undo factory farming, I wouldn’t need 2 other wishes…


Vegan Oatmeal & Almond Cookies

If you follow my recipes  you know that I’m not a dessert creator however, yesterday was a bit of a change up. Movers arrived in the cold and I was doing my best to stay out of the way of the pandemonium of unloading our Canadian container into our house here in Pittsburgh. I though, well, I’ll put on some hot french press black coffee to start…then I thought “gee, some deliciously chewy/crunchy/oven fresh cookies would be nice to offer up”….I think I was channelling some 1950’s housewife for a minute.

After scouring my cupboards I thought I had what I needed to put some vegan cookies together. Lo and behold, after googling around for inspiration I found a baking time that I thought would work with the ingredients I had and – voila! Delicious, oatmeal cookies with very little effort.

Enjoy these and feel free to recreate the recipe to suit your own tastes or ingredients.

You could add cranberries, chocolate chips, raisins, coconut, walnuts…go nuts!


  • 1 .5 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy free earth balance
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract try my homemade version HERE
  • 2-4 Tbsp nut milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). If you don’t have a true 350 please try to find it or bump up your temps. My cooking time here is based on 360 degree oven temp.
  2. In large bowl mix oats, flour, coconut, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and mix together.
  3. In a smaller bowl cream earth balance and  sugar together then add  syrup and vanilla.
  4. Combine dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stirring until the mixture is crumbly.
  5. Add 1 tsp of nut milk at at time. If you can roll into balls while still a little dry this is perfect. If the mix is still too crumbly, keep adding small amounts milk until you can make balls that stick.
  6. Place the rolled balls onto a silpat on a large baking tray
  7. Bake for 20 minutes. Edges will be firm and the cookies lightly browned. They will be softer than you think is ok but they will “set” while cooling.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  9. Dust with cinnamon

These are truly the nicest chew/crunch factor ever. I adapted this recipe heavily from one I found online.

Carb lovers home workout ~ holiday hacks

Want to make it out of the next week without the overeating, fat storing ho-hums??

This simple article is all about beating the fat away while still enjoying what most folks don’t think twice about on their holiday break ~ FOOD OF MANY SERVINGS AND CALORIE COUNTS!

The goal here is to prepare for carb overload using glycogen depletion. You don’t need to get too fancy with it, basically what you can shoot for is high intensity workouts with a lot of reps and plyometric style movement.

We attempt to use the largest muscle groups in this theory to tap into the areas with the biggest glycogen stores. Deplete…then refill. Make sense?

You can use the methodologies brought to you in the FML Fat Fry by going “low carb” for a few days before any feast….if you haven’t had that awareness / been low carb you can STILL prep using fitness as your weapon before and then the day after a big eating session.

Happiest of the Holiday Season to you all ~ may you nourish your bodies with the food and love they deserve this season and every other.

Let’s roll out the training…………

Choose any movement you wish for intervals – skipping is a GREAT fat burner but mountain climbers, Heisman’s etc…work just as well….Complete the work in a circuit fashion.

Exercise 1 – Intervals – 15 minutes

  • 1 minute work – Fastest cardio work (skipping/squat jacks….)
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 30 sec work – air squats (BIG air)
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work- regular squats,
  • 15 secs rest
  • 1 minute work – jump lunges
  • 15 secs rest

Exercise 2 – Intervals – 10 minutes

  • 1 minute work – fastest cardio work (see above)
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work – Burpees with jump tuck
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work – crunches
  • 15 seconds rest

Exercise 3 – Intervals – 5 minutes

  • 1 minute work – fastest cardio work (see above)
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work – elbow to knee crunches
  • 15 seconds rest
  • 1 minute work – push ups (modify if needed)

Pittsburgh Meal Prep Discounts

Cool news ~ Pittsburgh Fresh clients are now able to have me PERSONALLY design their weekly OR monthly macros/meal plans for goal oriented nutrition!
Fat loss, muscle gain, maintenance calories…whatever your needs we will get you on your way.
There is a time requirement prior to your order being delivered so please have a read through the product details on my site. We are working through the details so please bear with us through any changes. Simply place your order and then purchase one of the services below as soon as possible to allow for enough time to build your personalized macro plan. 
*This discounted service is for Pittsburgh Fresh clientele only*
Any folks who are ordering can use my discount code for a 15% savings (anyone can use this, anytime):
Pittsburgh Fresh Facts:
*HQ located in Brookline, PA
*No preservatives & fresh made in Pittsburgh
*Ingredients from scratch in house including mayo, BBQ sauce, stock,dressing etc.
*Most meals are gluten and dairy free *and they now have a VEGAN line on trial* (unless otherwise noted)
*Meals are pre-prepared & take 2 minutes to heat
*Menu changes weekly
*Grab ‘N Go Cafes at FASTER Robinson + Southpointe and at MECKA Fitness
*Delivery Locations below as well as home delivery
Mecka/Crossfit Mt. Lebanon
Urban element
Raw training
Naturally Soergels
Crossfit Athletics
FASTER Robinson
FASTER Southpointe
Steel Revolution
Downtown hotels and offices

Healthy Fats ~ Your introduction to MCT Oils


Putting a spotlight on a health food product that some of you may not be aware of ~ MCT Oil. It’s pretty tiring to live with low fat dogma, so many folks who are misled have an utter lack of healthy saturated fats in their diets.

I said HEALTHY FATS, not the deep-fried, cancer-causing stuff!

MCT can be found in coconuts, coconut oil and palm kernel oil, small amounts of MCT can be found in butter and other high-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows and goats.

DO NOT CONFUSE extremely unhealthy industrial versions of coconut & palm oil (hydrogenated) with organic, virgin and unrefined oils available as “health foods.”

MCTs are medium chain triglycerides & can be turned into ketones, which are an excellent source of energy for your body — (better than glucose).Ketones produce less reactive oxygen species (ROS) when metabolized to produce ATP.Ketone supps are still under development so your best bet is to use MCTs found in foods and supplements.

My favourite (more costly) type of MCT is straight C8 (caprylic acid). It converts ketones faster than C10 fats & digests well.

Coconut oil provides a mix of all the medium-chain fats, including C6, C8, C10 and C12.When it comes to curbing hunger you want C8 and C10.Ketones aid in suppressing the hunger hormone.

MCT oil can be consumed every day. If just starting; 1 teaspoon of MCT oil per day with a handful of nuts, with creamer in your coffee or as one of the oils in your salad dressing. Once your tolerance increases, increase that amount to 4 tbsp per day. One of the ways you can improve your tolerance is by using the powdered form in shakes or home baked keto muffins or breads.MCT oil is more easily digested by those struggling to digest other types of fats ie; sufferers of malabsorption, leaky gut, Crohn’s disease or gallbladder infections/removals.

MCTs enhance thermogenesis and fat oxidation, thereby suppressing the deposition and accumulation of body fat.In other words, they have a heating effect, and your body can readily use ketones as fuel for energy in lieu of carbs. When you burn fat and produce more ketones using MCT, you are provided with effects that are very similar to the keto diet without having to reduce your net carbs as drastically.

MCTs Are Part of a Healthy Diet — They’re Not a Miracle Cure

If you are interested in trying this oil out for yourself, start slow and mind your guts! As always, a clean diet and regular exercise come first in maintaining a healthy weight, strong bones and low stress life.

xx – S

Fermentation – Why you need to get into it!


Water, salt & a few veggies is all you need to start!

Fermentation. From Kombucha to Pickles, Kimchi to Root Beer…this ancient tradition is the stuff healthy guts, skin and hair were made up of. While the move to Pittsburgh has ground my homemade ferments to a halt, I still have store-bought items in the fridge because nothing says digestion like a good helping of sauerkraut.

Take a minute to consider why you should be adding them to your diet on a regular basis and if you have 20 minutes and a few tools, you can use my recipes to start your own cultures at home for just pennies per serving.

Try my recipe here: GARLIC-Y SAURKRAUT

Fermented foods are rich in enzymes, which help speed up digestion and absorption in our system. They are also rich in good bacteria, specifically lactobacillus acidophilus, which is a beneficial flora found in the gut. Consuming the healthy bacteria found in fermented foods restores and balances the flora in your gut leading to better vitamin and nutrient absorption. Another plus is that fermented foods have a long shelf life, without containing harmful preservatives.

Fermenting means converting a food’s carbohydrates to alcohol (not the kind that gets you drunk). Examples include kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchee, vinegar, tempeh, miso, yogurt, kefir and pickles.

Kombucha (also known as mushroom tea, kvass, etc) is a fermented drink made from tea, sugar, live bacteria and yeast. It’s readily available at health food stores and even some grocery stores but at astronomical prices that I just cannot agree with. Benefits include improvement in digestion and liver function, as well as stimulation of the immune system. Kombucha does not have a high salt or sugar content and can be enjoyed daily.

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. It’s typically made with just two ingredients: salt and cabbage. Korea has a version of sauerkraut called kimchee, which is fermented spiced cabbage. Sauerkraut and kimchee contain beneficial bacteria that help with the digestive process and are a great way to naturally cure yeast infections. There’s also research linking kimchee with high antibiotic potency and longevity.

Miso is a thick paste made from fermented soybeans that is a great source of manganese and zinc, two important mineral antioxidants. Miso contains healthy bacteria that supports intestinal microflora, the amino acid tryptophan which is important for sleep and is a great source of dietary fibre. During the soybean fermentation process, grains like barley, rice, or buckwheat may be added to achieve a certain flavour, but in most cases soybeans serve as the basis. Miso soup is also often prescribed to patients undergoing chemotherapy as it’s believed by some to aid in absorption of essential nutrients. Miso can be used to add flavour to soups, sauces, marinades, salad dressings or vegetables dishes.

Coconut kefir (similar to milk kefir without the dairy) is fermented coconut milk. It contains a host of probiotic cultures that support your intestinal system that are not found in yogurt. Coconut kefir helps to minimize sugar cravings and, because it’s not made from animal milk, people with lactose intolerance can partake minus the nasty side effects. Enjoy it on its own or in a smoothie or make it into a dip similarly to how you’d use yogurt.

Adding just one of these delicious fermented foods to your diet now could balance a whole host of issues that could be living in your gut now. Fill up with good bacteria that doesn’t require the use of dairy products and feel amazing!






Vegan Lentil Stew – The Crockpot Chronicles



Perfect Winter Food
Perfect Winter Food


I couldn’t be more ecstatic to eat this dish than the night I created it on – minus 25, snowing, cold as &*(%. Slow cookers are my savior when life gets hectic. I don’t often use them in the summer but they ARE great for sauces, dips and even desserts….hint: I may be expanding my vegan cooking empire this winter.

Ingredients are few but tasty. You should all enjoy this on a cold winter night. Maybe paired up with some homemade sourdough toast?


1 cup lentils

3 medium russet potatoes cubed

3 stalks celery diced

2 medium carrots diced

2 small yellow onions

4 cloves garlic

4 cups water/veggie stock  or 1 cube organic veggie stock dissolved in water

1 tbsp curry

1 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1 tsp pepper



Saute onions and garlic in oil for 5-7 minutes in crock pot if possible, if not in small pan….add celery and carrots and saute for additional 3-4 minutes.

Add potatoes and remaining ingredients.

Cook on high for 2 hours. Turn onto low for 7 hours. Add water if necessary / lentils expand more than you expected.

Serves 6


Food Medicine Tips:

*Stabilize blood sugar

*Packed with fiber

*Iron rich


Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 143 
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1 g 1 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 894 mg 37 %
Potassium 1517 mg 43 %
Total Carbohydrate 29 g 10 %
Dietary Fiber 7 g 28 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 8 g 16 %
Vitamin A  102 %
Vitamin C  7 %
Calcium  3 %
Iron  13 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.