Pumpkin brownies


Hello beautiful people,

Let’s talk about compassion… Compassion is a word you hear a lot of in the vegan community.  The entire premise of the vegan lifestyle is based on compassion for animals. To not cause additional suffering to helpless creatures, to defend the defenceless and to speak up for those who have no voice. Mercy, empathy, solicitude.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra (text outlining the principles of yoga written about two centuries after Jesus Christ) a similar rule is presented to yoga practitioners. In the second part of the book called yamas, Patanjali presents the ethical principles by which someone should live in order to create a peaceful and fulfilled life. The first yama is ahimsa which stands for non-violence. Non-violence to others, including animals, but also non-violence towards ourself. And this is the type of compassion, or non-violence, I want to talk about with you today.

I’ve been practising yoga for many years and my main reason for adopting a vegan lifestyle is the application of ahimsa, to cause no violence to those around me.

I won’t lie. Its kind of a big deal for me to say that I’m a vegan and that I don’t cause additional, unnecessary harm to animals. But that’s just the thing, my application of the rule of ahimsa has always been limited to animals. Up until recently, I never really asked myself if I had compassion for me. And when I asked myself that question, I didn’t like the answer.

No, I can’t say I have true and honest compassion for myself. I’ll actually take it a step further and say that I actually have selective compassion. I choose who I have compassion for. Animals: absolutely. Children: always. Other adults: hmmmm, it depends. Me: sometimes.

And it was only when I stopped to ask myself that question, that I realized my actual lack of compassion. And this is where these brownies come in. I’ve been working on these brownies for quite some time. I never seemed to get the recipe quite right. They were either too dense or too sweet. Too fudgey or too crumbly. I would get mad and frustrated at myself for not being able to solve the perfect pumpkin brownie enigma. I had no compassion for myself. I didn’t take into consideration that maybe I had so much on my plate that I couldn’t focus on crating a stellar recipe or that I might be tired after taking care of a baby all day (and often all night – our son, at 13 months, just started sleeping his full nights!). All I saw was my failure to succeed at something so simple as… a brownie.

You might think this is a silly example and that there are far more important things in life to accomplish then nailing a brownie recipe. And you are absolutely right! But if I can’t show myself a little compassion for something as silly as a brownie recipe, where else am I not showing up for myself and who else am I not showing up for?

The thing with compassion is that if you don’t start by having some for yourself, it is very hard to give it to others. Like love. If you don’t truly love yourself, how can you love someone else. Ever try pouring a glass of water for someone out of an empty jug? Not much will happen there. Same thing with love. Same thing with compassion.

So I took a good look at how I treat myself on a daily basis. There is a lot of negative self talk here folks. See, I’m a perfectionist. And I always believed that a little negative self talk produces good results or at least achieves goals. Funny thing is, I actually know just how false that is! I know it’s false! I just hadn’t realized to what extent I was doing it… the crazy things we do!

I also realized how hard I am on others. It all comes back to the jug people: empty jug can’t fill up someone else’s glass!

So I took the resolution (why wait for January 1st!) that I was going to implement more compassion for myself, and for others, on a daily basis. And let me tell you, just by taking that decision, I not only feel so much better but I nailed this brownie recipe! You might think linking the two: compassion and brownies, is far fetched but let me tell you, it really isn’t…

I’ll detail the steps I took to implement more compassion into my life in my next blog post but for now, I give you, my pumpkin brownies.

I made these gluten free so I could share them with friends and family, a lot of which are either celiac or on a wheat elimination protocol to better their health.

Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve enjoyed these.


Pumpkin brownies
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12 portions
I’m a fan of cakey brownies and not really the fudgey kind so these brownies are chocolatey and just cakey enough. I had run out of vegan chocolate chips when I made these so I used a bar of semi-sweet vegan chocolate and made little shavings from a 2 ounce square.
  • 1 Cup gluten-free flower (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF Baking flour and it worked amazing)
  • 1/2 coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 Cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 Cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 Cup unsweetened almond milk (or any other milk alternative you enjoy)
  • 2 Tbs. coconut oil, melted + extra for greasing the pan
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (see Recipe summary for alternative)
  1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
  2. Coat an 8X8 inch square pan with some extra coconut oil or use parchment paper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and nutmeg. Stir with a whisk to combine.
  4. In another mixing bowl, add the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, milk, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract. Stir to make sure everything is well combined.
  5. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon.
  6. You may notice that the mixture is dry. Just keep stirring gently, it’ll all eventually combine well.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and mix only to combine. You don’t want to over stir.
  8. Pour the brownie mixture in the pan and cook for 25 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.



Spiced apple crumble



Hello beautiful people,

Yesterday was such an amazing day. It was the first time we were bringing our son Adriano apple picking. Well not only was the sun shining and the weather nice and warm, but the farm was holding its annual Fall Festival with live music, tractor rides and my favourite, a corn roast. But the best part of the day was watching Adriano climb the trees with his dad and wanting to bite into every apple he would get his hands on. This child definitely inherited his love of food from both his dad and I.


After climbing trees all morning and running around the farm chasing Adriano (my husband and I definitely got a good workout in, unintentionally! loll), we sat down to eat some of the juiciest and sweetest corn I’ve had all summer. It was pure delight… I could also smell the freshly baked apple desserts but none were vegan so I promised my family that when we got home, I’d make us my famous apple crumble. And so as soon as we got home, Adriano crashed in his crib for a well deserved nap and I headed to the kitchen to start peeling the apples for my crumble.

Luckily, the apples that are ready for picking at this time of the season are McIntosh, Cortland and Lobo. As far as baking goes, Cortland and Lobo apples are your best pick as they are firm and will keep their shape while baking. McIntosh apples are also good but they do get a little “mushier” when baked so I prefer to use them for apple sauce. Some recipes call for Granny Smith apple, which is also a nice firm apple but it is a little too sour for my taste for a crumble. That being said, if you enjoy the more sour taste of the Granny Smith apple, you can definitely add some to this recipe. Since this recipe calls for about 8 cups of diced apples, or 5 large apples, you can easily swap 2 of those apples for Granny Smith.

Now that the type of apples for baking is taken care of, let’s talk about spices. If you read my previous post, you already know that I love my spices. To me, it’s what makes the dish. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until I started traveling on my own and exploring beyond the usual touristic path, that I developed my love for spices. Until my late teens, I didn’t know much about spices other then the ones my mom used, which were mainly from the French cuisine repertoire. But then I travelled to Jamaica, Bermuda, Nassau, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize and discovered the incredible taste of Caribbean and South American cuisine which is so rich in flavour and spices like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, all-spice, cayenne pepper and cumin. I was hooked. Later on, I travelled extensively to Europe and the Middle-East and discovered spices like paprika in Hungary, saffron in Spain, caraway seeds in Poland, Sumac in Jordan and cardamom in Egypt.

From then on, my cooking took on an international flair and my dishes were now spiced with flavours from all around the world. This apple crumble is no exception. While it does include the usual cinnamon, it also includes nutmeg and cardamom.

Nutmeg has a sweet but bitter taste and according to the people at Organic Facts, Nutmeg has a long list of associated health benefits, including its ability to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, alleviate oral conditions, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function, and prevent leukemia, and improve blood circulation. Not bad for a spice!

Cardamom has more of a pungent taste and according to the folks at The Epicentre, the ancient Egyptians chewed cardamom seeds as a tooth cleaner. It also has many health benefits including treating mouth ulcers, helping with digestive problems and even depression.

So your apple crumble will not only taste amazing, have an international flair, but it will also bring you added health benefits. Not bad for a dessert, no?

I hope you guys enjoy this dessert and let me know in the comments what you like to bake after a day of apple picking.


Spiced apple crumble
Recipe Type: Dessert
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 portions
This apple crumble uses Cortland apple, which hold their shape well while baking. Lobo are another great option as is Granny Smith, if you enjoy a more sour taste.
  • 8 Cups diced apples, (about 5 apples)
  • 1/4 Cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom (cardamom has a very bold flavour so use sparingly)
  • 1 1/4 Cup white spelt flour (or gluten-free flour for a GF dessert – Bob’s Red Mill Baking GF flour works great)
  • 1 1/2 Cup rolled oats (I don’t recommend using instant oatmeal but you can use GF rolled oats)
  • 1/2 Cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 8 Tbs cold vegan butter, diced small (I use salted vegan butter by Earth Balance)
  • Coconut oil for greasing
  1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with coconut oil.
  3. Core and peel the apples.
  4. Place the chopped apples in a large mixing bowl and add the lemon juice, sugar and spices. Mix with a wooden spoon until the apples are coated and pour into the baking dish and spread evenly.
  5. Set aside.
  6. In another bowl, mix the flour, rolled oats, sugar and cinnamon. Combine with your wooden spoon.
  7. Add the butter to the mixing bowl and with your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it forms little clumps.
  8. Top apples with the rolled oats mixture and bake in the oven until the crumble is starting to brown and the apples are bubbling through the sides.
  9. Enjoy