Totally Manageable Friendsgiving Menu

It's hard to believe that we're already into November and Thanksgiving is just a few short weeks away! I am hosting our first Thanksgiving in our new home this year and the pressure is on. Of course I want it to be perfect and there are a hundred and one things I want to make, but I am the only one putting any pressure on myself. Eventually I will calm down and just have fun with the whole thing.

If the idea of prepping and executing an involved Thanksgiving menu gets you stressed out, you need to check out the menu I developed for Evite's Friendsgiving this year. Totally manageable recipes and the whole thing can be prepped and cooked in a couple of hours if you're short on time.

Find the whole menu on Evite's site here and in their magazine here. They also prepared this helpful graphic so you can pace the afternoon just right and get dinner on the table in time!

Chocolate Seed Bars

A pretty constant obsession of mine is figuring out how to make eating massive amounts of chocolate a healthy endeavor. Whenever my husband sees me reaching for the bag of raw cacao, he whispers, "you know, just because you add a whole bunch of healthy stuff to chocolate, it doesn't mean it's healthy."

Well, I beg to differ. First off, by making it myself, I avoid adding in a ton of processed sugar (I usually sweeten with maple syrup and stevia) and there aren't any fillers or soy products thrown in to try and smooth out the chocolate. It's just simple, healthy ingredients and while it may not be considered health food per se, I'm never, ever, ever going to stop eating chocolate so this is my compromise.

These seed bars, are just that, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds (I love adding these little guys to chocolate dishes - the protein in them helps slow the absorption of the carbs) and a few other choice ingredients - coconut shavings, coconut oil, maple syrup and of course, raw cacao.

I made a double batch to fill up the tart pan for the photos, but I usually only make one at a time. I just don't trust myself with a big batch of deliciousness laying around the house.

Chocolate Seed Bars

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup coconut shavings

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup hemp seeds

8 drops organic liquid stevia

Starting with the pumpkin seeds, place the first five ingredients in a food processor (through maple syrup) and process until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. The mixture can be a little chunky, but you want everything to be fully combined. Add in the hemp seeds and stevia and pulse once or twice just to mix them through.

Dump the mixture out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and press it together into a square about a half-inch thick. You can also press the mixture evenly into a square pan. Chill for 30 minutes, then cut into desired serving size. I recommend 1-inch by 4-inch bars about the size of a small granola bar or square bites to keep in the fridge when you need a quick chocolate boost.


Bananas truly are the ish if you're trying to eat healthy. Their natural sweetness and ability to add a creamy texture when blended into dishes make them an ideal ingredient when you're trying to create healthier versions of dishes that would usually remain off-limits.

If you have a high powered blender (yes, we all mean Vitamix when we say, "high-powered blender") you can throw in a couple frozen bananas with any flavoring of your choice and make something surprisingly similar to ice cream. They're great for making protein shakes seem more like milkshakes (check out this recipe if you love chocolate) and you can also use pureed bananas to replace some of the fat in baked goods they way you would with apple sauce.

I purchase two huge bunches at a time, remove their peels, break them in half and store them in the freezer until I need them (which is almost every day). 

I'm including two more delicious recipes to use up those frozen bananas (in addition to the shake recipe linked above). The cookie dough is intended for eating as is, not cooking and it's the absolute best. You can finally eat cookie dough without feeling guilty.

If you've never made a protein pancake before, start with this recipe. It's from the ladies over at Tone It Up and it works beautifully.

Seriously Healthy Cookie Dough

Makes 1 serving

1/2 banana

1 packet or scoop of vanilla protein powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of kosher salt

2 tbsp unsweetened carob chips

Liquid, organic stevia to taste

If banana is frozen, defrost in the microwave for 30 seconds. Mash banana, add protein powder, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. If the mixture is still really wet, you can add more protein powder until a cookie dough consistency is reached. Taste and use the liquid stevia to adjust sweetness (protein powders vary a lot in sweetness so add as much as you need). Stir in the carob chips and enjoy. This also tastes delicious after spending some time in the freezer to firm up.


Protein Pancakes (From Tone It Up)

Makes 3 pancakes (1 serving)

1/2 banana

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/4 cup egg whites

1 tbsp almond milk

1 tsp cinnamon

If banana is frozen, defrost in the microwave for 30 seconds. Mash banana, add egg whites and almond milk and stir. Add protein powder and cinnamon and stir until combined. 

Preheat a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Spray pan with coconut oil cooking spray and poor batter into pan in three circles. Cook until lightly browned, about four minutes per side. Serve with fresh berries and a touch of maple syrup.




Raw Cacao Bites

It's next to impossible to avoid sweets and temptations this time of year. My solution? Indulge in something delicious that's not as bad for you as those sugar-laden options lurking around the office and waiting for you at holiday parties.

These bites are loaded with healthy fats and the rich flavor from raw cacao will blow your chocolate cravings out of the water. I use coconut flakes because I think they end up blending better. If you use shredded coconut, it may throw off the ratios.

I dare not make more than one batch at a time, but if you have more will power than I do, this recipe is easily doubled.

Raw Cacao Bites

Makes 12

3 cups coconut flakes

3/4 cup raw cacao powder

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 tblsp coconut oil

Pinch of kosher salt

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until well-combined. The mixture will start to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl when it's fully mixed. At this point, scrape down the bowl and process a little longer to be sure the coconut is fully combined. If the mixture looks really oily, place in the fridge to firm up slightly before rolling into balls.

Roll one tablespoon of the mixture between your hands to form a ball. Flatten the orb slightly and make an indent with your thumb. Place in the fridge to harden and keep there until ready to serve.