Spiced Apple Pumpkin Bread (vegan)

Oops I did it again. 

I played with your heart....got lost in the game...

Jk, Jk. But I did make bread again. Remember last week on Instagram and in my blog post when I told you I made my homemade banana bread? Well I did it again. I made more bread. I just couldn't help myself!

I honestly don't really even like baking. It's too much measuring, too many ingredients, too much everything. Don't get me wrong, I love baking cookies around Christmas time...and sometimes on a random Tuesday (not going to lie), but those random Tuesdays are few and far between. I'm more of a chop, season, roast-in-the-oven type of girl. 

But here I am, sitting at my dining room table on Sunday night to write this post, and I've made 2 different loaves of quick bread within 3 days. FOR FUN. I don't even know who I am anymore. But here is what I do know: 

1. This bread is incredibly easy to make. 

2. Maple syrup and fresh apple are the only sweeteners (woohoo!). 

3. It takes about 5-10 minutes to prep before baking (major win). 

4. It combines 2 things I love about fall: apple + pumpkin. 

4. Scott and I can't stop eating it. 

Just look at that glorious loaf! It is everything you want in a homemade bread. It has a soft, moist center and a wonderful outer crumb. And it's filled with so many good ingredients. In my banana bread recipe I used brown sugar and coconut sugar, but for this recipe I wanted to use something different. I wanted to sweeten it a bit more naturally. I knew I wanted to make a pumpkin bread and as I was jotting down ingredient notes I thought about a few different things. First I thought banana (I guess I have bananas on the brain since I just made the banana bread). Bananas are a great way to naturally sweeten many things, but it's tough to hide the banana flavor in the finished product. I didn't want banana pumpkin bread (although...it actually sounds good...maybe next time?). NextI thought about using dates. I use dates allllll the time to sweeten a variety of things (smoothies, oatmeal, other baked goods), but I didn't have enough on hand. Then I thought about apples. MMMM! A crisp, sweet apple could work nicely in this recipe, but I didn't want apple chunks in my bread. Hmmmm....

*cue locking eyes with my Vitamix blender sitting on the counter*

I'll just blend all the wet ingredients, duh! I've actually never done that before. Do people do that? Am I behind the times on this? Well whatever the case, it worked out beautifully. No apple chunks - just smooth, wonderfully blended ingredients that poured out like silk. 

The result was a delicious loaf that tastes like pumpkin apple spice and everything nice! It's a hearty loaf (thanks to the whole wheat flour, oats, and flaxseed) that somehow feels still feels really light (THANK YOU apple and pumpkin!!). 

I have a feeling this loaf will be making many more appearances this season, which is A-OK with me :)

Spiced Apple Pumpkin Bread (V)

|1 loaf = 10-12 slices|


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry or spelt flour would also work)
  • 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 large apple cored (I used Honeycrisp)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground flaxseed


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Prepare 8 x 4 loaf pan with olive oil, coconut oil, or parchment paper. 
  2. Add all dry ingredients (except flaxseed) to a large bowl and stir until well combined. 
  3. Add all wet ingredients (including flaxseed) to a blender and blend until smooth and well combined (be sure apple is fully blended). 
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until just combined. Be careful not to over stir, as batter can become tough. 
  5. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  6. Allow bread to cool in the loaf pan for about 20-25 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Allow the bread to cool for another 10-15 minutes before slicing (this helps keep the bread intact while cutting). 
  7. Enjoy!



Autumn Roasted Veggie Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Oh fall, how I love you. Fall in Ohio is just the best. Cool mornings, sunny days, a crisp evening breeze, watching the leaves change from deep green to vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges, and the smell of smoky burning wood drifting in the air...these are the days we live for. We hold on tight and we love it hard. Winter in Ohio can be a bit of a drag. Once the holidays are over, we see a lot of cold, gray days. But not fall. Fall is simply the best. 

Side note: I have a loaf of the yummiest banana bread in the oven right now and my whole house smells like magic. I posted the recipe 2 years ago (btw...where does time go?!?!?) and if you haven't made it yet, DO IT. I want to bottle the scent of this bread and spray it wherever I go. There is something about fresh bread in the oven that just makes things feel extra cozy. 

Also, can you tell I was running out of light to take these photos? Imagine me standing on a chair over my white board trying to reflect light with another white board as much as possible, holding my breath (I do that often when I take pictures), feverishly snapping pics before the sun goes down. Shambles. Long days with lots of sunlight is definitely something I miss already.  

Another reason I love fall is because of all the delicious in-season produce. Heeellllloooo squash! Fall brings us those hearty root veggies, which happen to be some of my favorite foods. I could live on squash.


Squash is the star of this salad. Not only are they beautiful and tasty, they are also incredibly nourishing. The impressive health benefits of squash are derived from the organic compounds, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that they contain. Squash is incredibly high in vitamin A (good for your immune system, skin, and vision), as well as a significant source of vitamin C, vitamin E, and B vitamins. Squash also contains minerals such as magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. They are also an excellent source of carotenoids and other important anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.  

In this recipe I used one of my favorite squash - delicata! The cool thing about delicata squash is that you can eat the skin! That means it's suuuuper easy to prepare. Wash, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds with a spoon, and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Game changer. 

I've been focusing a lot on squash, but let's not forget about the other ingredients. Brussels sprouts, beets, red onion (and squash) = the most colorful, delicious, and nutrient-dense combo! This veggie combo is slightly sweet (roasting veggies brings out their natural sweetness), satisfying, autumnal, and simply delicious. Served over greens and topped with a simple creamy avocado dressing creates a beautiful side to any meal, or even light main meal. We added black beans and enjoyed this salad as a main meal this week. Delish!

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we did :)

Happy veggie roasting and happy fall, friends! 

Autumn Roasted Veggie Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing (V + GF)

|Serves 3-4|


For the salad: 

  • 2 delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, cut into 1/2 inch slices 
  • 2-3 small beets, peeled and diced 
  • 2-3 cups brussels sprouts, ends removed, cut in half
  • 1 red onion, sliced into half rings 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 cups fresh mixed greens

For the dressing: 

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon
  • 2-3 Tbsp water 


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F). 
  2. Add sliced squash, brussels sprouts, and red onion in a large bowl. Gently toss with olive oil and spices, then add to a bare baking sheet. 
  3. After transferring the veggies to the baking pan, toss the beets in the same large bowl with the leftover oil and spices. Transfer beets to the same baking sheet. *Tossing separately will prevent the other veggies from becoming red from the beets. 
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes. You’ll know the veggies are done when fork tender, golden brown, and slightly caramelized. 
  5. While squash is baking, prepare dressing by adding avocado, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper to a small blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. To serve, top fresh greens with roasted veggies and drizzle with dressing. Best when enjoyed immediately.
  7. Enjoy!


*Feel free to add beans or lentils to this salad to make it a more complete meal. 



Peanut Butter Chickpea Protein Bars

Protein Bars. Do you love them? Do you hate them?

I have a love/hate relationship with them. 

Let me explain...

I am not a fan of most "health" protein bars on the market. Many of these bars have the nutrient profile of a candy bar and I'm just not into that. Many bars that market themselves as "fiber" bars or "protein" bars have very little of those actual nutrients. What the heck? And then there are those bars that claim to be high protein...and they are (hint: there is such a thing as too much of a good thing). 35 grams of protein, but all from isolated soy and/or whey. Also, sugar is the second ingredient. No thanks

By the way, 35 grams is a LOT of protein for a snack. If you eat those bars as a meal, fine, but let's be honest...do those bars satisfy anyone as an actual meal? Not me! I need some volume at meal times. I want to see a big plate or bowl of colorful foods that I can dig into. Maybe I'm weird...but I have a feeling some of you might feel similarly. I could go on and on about why I'm just not into most processed protein bars, but instead let me tell you about protein bars that I actually like. 

And a drum roll pleeeaaaasseee.....


Homemade protein bars are where it's at. You know me...I love using and eating real food ingredients. But I also like to keep things simple. For me, that's the best of both worlds. Simple + real food = jackpot. 

Does the thought of homemade protein bars intimidate you? It did me for a long time! I didn't really want to use protein powder and honestly thought it sounded like more of a hassle than anything. 

Boy was I wrong. 

These homemade peanut butter protein bars are SO easy. And SO good! They are made with all real food ingredients and filled with protein (but not too much), which makes it perfect for between meal snacking. These guys are also perfect for post-workout fuel. They have the right ratio of carbohydrate and protein to replenish those tired muscles and glycogen (energy) stores without overdoing it. 

But let's back up a minute. Let's talk about what else makes these protein bars so awesome. It's no secret that I love beans (especially chickpeas)...so why not throw them into some homemade protein bars?! Chickpeas are not only high in protein, but they are a great source of complex carbohydrate, potassium, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, and iron. They are also naturally loaded with fiber, which is one of the reasons I love these protein bars for snacks. Fiber = a full, happy belly. A full, happy belly = a happy Lauren. You know that Snickers ad campaign "you're not yourself when you're hungry"? That's basically me in a nutshell. I'm trying to think who my hangry alter-ego is. Hmm...one of the guys from the movie Grumpy Old Men? The Hulk? Maybe a mix between the two...? Scott might have a few ideas of his own LOL. Now that I know my hangry side isn't pretty, I always have snacks with me. Always. And lately, these protein bars have been the winners. TAKE THAT, SNICKERS.

To sweeten the bar up, I used medjool dates and just a little bit of maple syrup. If you like yours a little sweeter, just add a little more maple syrup or even honey or molasses. Both would be delish! 

So to recap: real food, complex carbohydrate, low sugar, lots of fiber, a healthy amount of protein.....and delicious.  Who needs a Snickers bar when you've got homemade peanut butter protein bars?!  


Peanut Butter Chickpea Protein Bars

|Makes 8-10 bars|


  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • 5 pitted medjool dates
  • 1.5 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter 
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). 
  2. Blend the chickpeas, dates, maple syrup, and peanut butter together in a food processor until smooth. Add all the remaining ingredients and blend until well combined and smooth. It should begin to form a "dough ball". 
  3. Pour mixture into a prepared 8x8 inch pan and press down with slightly wet hands. Smooth out with a spatula. 
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. I like mine around 15-16 minutes. 
  5. Let the pan cool for about 10 minutes, and cut into bars. Store in a baggie or Tupperware container in the refrigerator or freezer. 
  6. Enjoy!




Energizing Pink Power Smoothie + That One Time on Dr. Oz!

I have a lot to share with you! But first...

I CAN'T EVEN with this smoothie. That color makes me weak in the knees. Every time I make it, I am just so stunned by the bright neon color. And all from real food!! My level of excitement is through the roof right now. I can't wait to share this with you. 

But I also want to tell you about this....

Last week I hoped on a plane to NYC to be part of the Dr. Oz show (!!!). I was one of 11 "health influencers" asked to help Dr. Oz launch The Regimen, a customizable plan to help you achieve your specific health goals.  It's essentially a checklist wellness plan that focuses on all the good things you can and should add to your diet/life. So many "plans" I see focus on the things we need to avoid and cut out. Ugh.  I prefer to focus on the good and let the nourishing foods crowd out the not so nourishing foods. That's why I'm really on board with this plan. It focuses on gut health, incorporating more real, whole foods into your diet, increasing physical activity, and creating meaningful social relationships. All the things that can help you be your healthiest self!

I was in NYC for a total of 23 hours and it was a complete whirlwind. I got to the city late Tuesday night after work (luckily it's just a quick hour and 20 minute flight), met my brother for dinner, and crashed at a friend's place before getting up bright and early to head to the ABC studio. I think I slept a total of 47 minutes LOL. I was glad I brought my heavy duty concealer because I had some serious dark circles under my eyes (yikes!).  

 The taping was tons of fun - we all had such a great time! After we were done at the studio, I took my carry-on bag and strolled around the city before grabbing an Uber back to the airport. And just like that, my short trip to NYC was over. All in all, it was an incredible opportunity and I feel extremely lucky to be part of such a great program with a fabulous group of people. The Regimen launched yesterday, so if you missed the show, check out more information here

In honor of The Regimen launching, I made you something really good and healthy. But also really pretty....with some fun ingredients ;)


If you haven't guessed already, the secret ingredient to make this smoothie the most beautiful smoothie there ever was is...BEETS! I'm having a major moment with beets. I just can't stop with them. We have been roasting them, spiralizing them, and throwing them in smoothies lately. 

Beets are highly nutritious and very good for cardiovascular health. The pigment antioxidants (heelllooo gorgeous color!) have been found to offer protection against heart disease, stroke, lower cholesterol levels, and even have anti-aging effects. Yes please. 

I also snuck another veggie in this smoothie. Any guesses?

CAULIFLOWER! Yep, cauliflower. I know, I know, not a normal smoothie ingredient, but hear me out! Frozen cauliflower makes the smoothie incredibly smooth and extra nutritious. Plus, you can't taste it - I promise! Cauliflower is totally becoming the new spinach (I like to add both to most smoothies!). Adding cauliflower to your smoothie is a great way to get extra fiber, disease fighting antioxidants, and loads of other nutrients (vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, folate, iron, magnesium, and more). 

This smoothie is also banana free so it's perfect for those of you who aren't really into bananas or are looking to incorporate lower glycemic index foods into your diet. You won't even miss the banana thanks to the avocado. Don't even get me started on my love for avocados. But seriously, this smoothie hits it out of the park. It's creamy, slightly sweet, and FULL of great nutrition. 

AND IT'S HOT PINK. That's enough reason for me to want to make it everyday. 

Happy blending!

Energizing Pink Power Smoothie

Inspired by Oh She Glows Pink Power Detox Smoothie

|Serves 1-2|


  • 1 cup filtered water OR coconut water
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 medium sweet apple, roughly chopped (I like honeycrisp or fuji)
  • 2 small fresh beets (or 1 medium/large beet), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup frozen dark cherries
  • 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon 


  1. Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Taste and add liquid sweetener or 1 pitted date if needed. 


*If you don't have a high-speed blender, you might want to lightly steam the beets until tender before blending. 

Roasted Sweet Potato & Lentil Salad

I really want you guys to veg out with me.

And by veg out I obviously mean eat ridiculous amounts of actual veggies. Although laying on the couch watching Chef's Table on Netflix sounds like a great way to veg out, too.

Have you watched Chef's Table? It's a documentary series where each episode features a different world renowned chef. It basically tells their life story of how they got to be where they are today and also features their incredible restaurants and dishes. Scott and I are obsessed. It is filmed so beautifully and many episodes have actually moved me to tears. It's so inspiring to see how these chefs have followed their passion and become so successful. I'm kinda sappy though, I admit it. 

The point of this blog post is not really to tell you about Chef's Table, although if you want to chat more about it don't hesitate to reach out to me because I could (and would) talk about how much I love it ALL DAY. Now I just need to find a way to make about $500,000 more to be able to afford all these fancy restaurants that have been added to my foodie bucket list. No big deal

But hi! Ok! Let's talk about this dish! This salad is really simple and really, really good. It highlights one of my favorite foods, LENTILS.  

But first...are you familiar with pulses? Pulses are the tiny, but very mighty foods known as beans, dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas. These little guys are not new foods, but they have been newly anointed as power foods! Pulses are totally having their moment right now and I couldn't be more excited. If you haven't noticed already, I'll take any excuse to get more of these nutritional powerhouses into my diet. Chickpea salad, three bean fiesta salad, black bean loaded veggie burgerszoodles with veggie lentil marinara, the list goes on and on. I just can't get enough! I love them because they are affordable, sustainable, versatile, and incredibly nutritious. They are filled with fiber, plant-protein (9 grams per half cup to be exact!), folate, potassium, B vitamins, zinc, and iron. Heck yes! 

Want to learn more? Head on over to PulsePledge.com to learn even more about pulses and join the 45k + people to sign up for the Pulse Pledge, where you can commit to eating pulses once a week for 10 weeks. You will receive more tips, tricks, and recipes to help make it easy to include pulses into your diet. Your bod (and taste buds) will thank you! 

For this dish, I wanted to make something light and easy, yet hearty and comforting. September really is the bridge between summer and fall and that's exactly what this dish is to me. A mix of light, bright, colorful veggies and chili spiced roasted sweet potatoes and hearty lentils. It honestly doesn't get much better. This dish just speaks to my September loving, veghead soul. 

I used black lentils for this recipe because I wanted the other colors to really pop. And boy, did they pop - just look at all those colors! Originally, I was just going to do roasted sweet potatoes and lentils, toss it in a quick dressing, and call it a day. I opened up my fridge to see some kale, red bell pepper, asparagus, and a gorgeous red onion so I decided to throw them in the dish. It turned out to be a fabulous decision. The result was a wonderful texture, lots of color, and lots of flavor. 

I made a simple dressing of Dijon mustard, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, fresh squeezed lemon, and a pinch of salt & pepper.

Viola! Dinner is served!

....With a hefty dose of plant-protein, complex carbohydrate, loads of fiber, and tons of nutrients. Just the way I like it :) 

Roasted Sweet Potato & Lentil Salad

|Serves 2 as main dish, serves 4 as side|


  • 1 cup black (beluga) lentils, uncooked
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided 
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped and woody ends discarded 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2-3 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste 

For the dressing

  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste 


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F). 
  2. Place the lentils in a large saucepan with vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and lower the heat to low. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 18-20 minutes. 
  3. Toss the sweet potatoes with 1 Tbsp olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt & pepper. Lay out on a baking tray. 
  4. Toss the asparagus with 1/2 -1 Tbsp olive oil and lay out on a separate baking sheet. 
  5. Roast the veggies in the oven. The sweet potatoes will take about 20-25 minutes. Toss them halfway through so they roast evenly. The asparagus will take about 10 minutes. You want them a bit soft, but still bright with a slight crunch. 
  6. Saute the garlic, onion, and red bell pepper in ~1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat until onion and pepper become softer. Add the kale and saute for about 2-3 more minutes. 
  7. For the dressing, place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until well combined. 
  8. Place the warm lentils, sweet potato, asparagus, and sauteed veggies together in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine. 
  9. Enjoy!



This post is sponsored by USA Pulses. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting brands that make WholeLivingLauren possible!