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Welcome, Fall!

It’s that “Pumpkin Spice Latte” time of year, again.  Who doesn’t love a warm mug of autumn cheer?

Be warned, though-  The popular pumpkin spice flavor at Starbucks is not vegan.  Boo!  (Check out this recent article in the Los Angeles Times.)

Here are the ingredients for the pumpkin spice flavoring:  sugar, condensed nonfat milk, sweet condensed nonfat milk, annatto (a colorant), natural and artificial flavors, and caramel coloring.

Icky.  No, thanks!

I don’t want sugar.  I don’t want animal products.  I don’t want fake pumpkin.  I don’t want fake spices.

To be honest, I also don’t care for Starbucks’ sweetened Vanilla Soy Milk, which contains 13 grams of sugar per cup.  I desire unsweetened soy milk made from just filtered water and organic soybeans.

(No, I don’t go to Starbucks for a latte…pumpkin spice or otherwise.)

My palate craves real food.  Let’s make a real Pumpkin Spice Latte, made from real pumpkin and real spices.

Pumpkin Spice Latte (NSNG)

Pumpkin Spice Latte (NSNG)


2 shots espresso
2/3 C non dairy milk
3 T canned organic pumpkin

Generous dash cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
Dash ground clove
1/4 t vanilla extract
Optional:  granulated or liquid maple syrup, to taste

Sprinkle the spices and put the vanilla extract into your espresso shot glass.  Brew the espresso over the flavors and stir.

Combine the non-dairy milk and canned pumpkin.  The pumpkin mixes quite easily into the milk without need for a blender.

Combine the spiced espresso with the pumpkin milk.  It’s good heated or iced.


Thanks to my friend Carrie Standish, who provided the inspiration for my version of the pumpkin spice latte.  Here is her original creation, made with brewed coffee instead of espresso…

Photo and Recipe Credit:  Carrie Standish

Photo and Recipe Credit: Carrie Standish


1 1/2 C brewed coffee
1/4 C full fat coconut milk
2 T pure pumpkin
1/4 t vanilla
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t pumpkin pie spice
Optional:  2 drops liquid stevia

Whirl everything in a blender on low speed for about 30 seconds. Enjoy!

Pre-measure the pumpkin and spices into individual containers to make the process even quicker and easier for busy fall mornings.

(#PPNSNG = Plant Powered No Sugar No Grains)


Now, here’s a similar recipe for Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding.  This is a terrific “on-the-go” breakfast.  It takes only a few minutes to make.  I recently discovered that chia pudding keeps me satiated for hours!

Here, I brought a jar of homemade pudding with me to eat in my car after lap swimming, before work.

Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding

Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding


1/2 C non dairy milk
3 T canned organic pumpkin
2 T chia seeds

Generous dash cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1/4 t vanilla extract
Optional:  liquid maple syrup, to taste

Combine everything in a pint size wide mouth freezer jar.  Stir several times in several minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken.  Refrigerate for about an hour, or use an ice pack to keep it cold.


Chia It's Not Just For Pets - IMG_2973

Bend, OR - October 27, 2012

I endured 35 days without coffee.

It seemed like an eternity…The longest 35 days of my life!

I did it to challenge myself.  I gave up coffee and chocolate for 30 days while some friends in the Vinnie Tortorich’s No Sugar No Grains Facebook group gave up dairy for 30 days.  My challenge lasted longer than 30 days because I (stupidly!) offered to start my challenge over when someone new joined the 30 day “No Dairy Challenge.”

I’ve always been a “one latte a day” coffee drinker.  Rarely would I have more than one.  I brew my espresso at home, enjoying my double shot with cinnamon, vanilla extract and a blend of non-dairy milks (soy, homemade nut/rice, and a splash of coconut).

I wanted to try going a full 30 days without coffee to see if I really missed it.  In the past, I’ve tried going a few days or even a week without it, but I always ended up going back to my daily habit.  I believe it does take at least 30 days to rid the body of addictive substances and establish new habits.

No– It’s not that I thought I had a caffeine addiction.  No one would consider my consumption excessive.  I do nothing to excess!  Balance is my middle name.  It’s my astrological sign:  Libra.

I may be different than some people.  I don’t use coffee to wake me up, or give me energy.  Actually– I enjoy my coffee the most when I can sit back and relax with it.  I really look forward to my coffee each day.  It calms me.  I’ve called it “my sweet elixir.”  (Read this previous post for proof!)

Even still– part of me wanted to find out if I would feel significantly better without the coffee in my system.  The people who give up coffee for good always seem to hype it up!  They feel soooo great, blah, blah, blah.  I always wondered if that would or could ever be “me.”

I also think that sometimes it’s good to not always get what we want, right when we want it.  It’s a form of discipline.  It builds mental toughness.  It rejects instant gratification…and entitlement.

(Nah!! It just sucks– let’s be honest!)

The verdict?

I gave up coffee and chocolate for 35 days.  The chocolate part wasn’t so bad.  Sure, I wanted a chocolate pick-me-up every so often.  But it wasn’t a big deal.

As for the coffee– I really, really missed it!

The first 4 days were a breeze.  No headaches.  No adverse physical symptoms.  I was not physically addicted to the caffeine, apparently.

On day 5 everything changed.  From that day, onward, I wanted my latte.  I longed for my latte.  I don’t believe I wanted the caffeine, but I did want the taste…and the comfort.

First, I substituted with various herbal teas.

Then, I discovered Teeccino.  I started off buying Teeccino Vanilla Nut Herbal Coffee Tee Bags.  They’re tasty, but in a full cup of hot water, they’re still very much like tea.  Too watery.

Next, I bought an 11 oz bag of Teeccino Maya French Roast Herbal Coffee.  I started brewing the Teeccino grounds in my espresso machine just like I’d brew espresso.  This was much better…more concentrated, more like coffee.  I made Teeccino lattes.  Not quite the same, but not bad at all.  Decent!

After the 21st day without coffee, I seriously had a dream about coffee.  Is that nuts, or what?

In my dream, I chugged a cup of black coffee.  (Funny, because I never drink black coffee!)  I was immediately pissed off at myself when I realized that I wasn’t supposed to drink it.  I’d ruined the whole challenge!  At that point in the dream, I was also getting ready to accept a latte that someone bought for me.  It occurred to me (in the dream) that I might get really buzzed from the caffeine of 2 coffee drinks, since I wasn’t used to drinking any.

I woke up glad it was only a dream!

After the first 20 days, I stopped counting every single day.  That made it easier because the days didn’t seem to pass as slowly as when I was counting each one.  I settled in.

Instead, I figured out the day I could have coffee again, and focused on it:

September 16, 2013

Tomorrow is that day.  I made it!  I survived without coffee.  Physically, I feel the same.  For me, there was nothing magical about giving up coffee.

Was it worth the deprivation?  NO!

I found out that my daily coffee really does keep me in my happy place.  It makes my good life even better.  It makes life’s frustrations a little more tolerable.  Coffee is soothing.  I just need it to feel…content.  Balanced.

I’m so glad I did this challenge because now I know without a doubt that I don’t EVER have to do it again.  I found out exactly what I wanted to find out.  Awesome!  That’s the payoff!

Coffee–>  I do declare:

You and I will never be separated again!

Coffee Cups - IMG_2383

"There are those who are appalled because I am so vocal about injustice, yet I am equally appalled by their silence." Lujene Clark

“Every time you purchase animal products you pay assassins to murder sentient beings for you.”

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