“What The Health” and What It Means for Your Hormones

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By now you might have already seen the new vegan documentary, “What the Health” that is causing so much controversy.

I am LOVING how this documentary has created a movement in people across the world to go vegan, vegetarian, or to cut down their animal consumption.

I do, however, have a few BIG issues with some of the claims the documentary makes.

“What the Health” shells out a lot of propaganda. I was shocked to see how many times throughout it, they claim sugar is not a cause of inflammation or diabetes- instead, they say fat is to blame. That’s pretty insane and just a downright pernicious message to be spreading.

Here’s why:

1. You need healthy fats for healthy hormones.
The documentary claims that animal fat leads to cancer. And yes, a diet of processed meat and unclean sources of animal protein, as well as unhealthy sources of plant based fat can lead to cancer.

But healthy fats will not.

Healthy fats will produce healthy hormones, and keep your healthy LDL cholesterol levels high- which you want!

And yes, that’s right, I said “healthy LDL”.

Unlike unicorns, there is such a thing! LDL gets a bad rap by being dumped in the “bad” category by the American Heart Association (seriously why haters gotta hate?!), but actually, the big fluffy particles of LDL are good for you! It’s the small, rugged particles that cause heart disease.

Because guess what? All of your sex hormones are made from cholesterol, so if you are eating a low-fat diet, your hormones will be in trouble.

And I’m not saying all fat is good. Only the healthy, unoxidized ones.

 

Good news is you can be vegan and STILL get your healthy fats.

You can also be vegetarian, or an omnivore. So whatever food plan you choose to fit your lifestyle and beliefs, just make sure you include healthy fats.

2. Sugar leads to inflammation and insulin resistance, which DIRECTLY affects your hormones.

Okay, these producers are smoking crack. The claim that all fats and meat leads to diabetes is 100% FALSE.

Processed meats will throw off your omega 6 to omega 3 balance in your body, which can increase your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, and rheumatoid arthritis.

But guess what? Eating lots of crappy vegetable oil (which is vegan!) and processed fake meats does the same thing!

You can’t just say ALL of something is bad, it’s not that easy.

I get it. They’re passionate. They are on a mission to get everyone to go vegan. And I respect their drive and mission. But to lie about sugar to persuade? That’s just playing dirty.

Let’s get the facts straight. When you eat sugar (and this includes any food with a high glucose level like honey, agave nectar, fruit, etc) your insulin levels will automatically rise. So if you are eating too much sugar, this will lead to higher blood glucose levels, which will eventually lead to diabetes.

If your blood sugar levels get too high, then your body will produce more of the hormone cortisol. And ladies, this is seriously bad news bears. When your body starts to make more cortisol, guess where it will get all the juice from to make that extra order?

It will steal from your other sex hormones like progesterone and estrogen. You see, cortisol will always take priority. It’s just the way our bodies are evolutionarily designed. Cortisol is designed to get us out of trouble when we are being chased by that saber tooth tiger. So your body will stop making progesterone and estrogen to make more cortisol.

And this is bad news if you are trying to conceive, wish to have healthy periods, combat PMS, keep your ideal weight, maintain high energy levels, etc.

So let’s get this clear. High quality fats do not affect your glucose levels in any way, shape or form. Sugar does.

So allow “What the Health” to motivate you! Just remember to include your healthy fats, and to keep your diet as low-glycemic as possible.

And if you are going vegan, please read my article about healthy and clean sources of plant-based protein.

xxxxx
Health Coach Jenna

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Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake with a Peanut Buttery Crust

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Dreams do come true guys! I’m so stoked with the way this cheesecake turned out. You can make them in a round spring form pan and spread the crust out thinly giving it more of a dessert vibe, or you can put in a square 8×8 pan like the ones in the picture, making more of a snack bar creation. These are super rich and filling, and can go either way. Either a smaller portion for dessert if you use the round spring form pan, or a bit more chunky for a mid-afternoon power snack  or breakfast if you use the square pan. These guys are full of healthy fats and protein, so they will keep your brain and body fueled.

I bet the kids would love em’ for brekkie. It’s a great way to send em’ off to school with brain power.

Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake: 

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Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups gluten-free oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 cups pitted medjool dates
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or your nut butter of choice)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Filling:

  • 2 cups soaked cashews (about 4-5 hours in warm water)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup of melted dark chocolate chips (I used Lily’s sugar free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao

Instructions:

1. Put all the crust ingredients in a food processor, and pulse together until it sticks together and has a dough like consistency.

2. Line an 8×8 baking pan with baking paper.

3. Pack the crust mixture into the pan TIGHTLY. If you don’t pack it tight enough the dough will not hold together entirely.

4. Clean out your food processor.

5. Put filling ingredients into the food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy. If it is too chunky slowly pour in additional coconut milk until it has a creamy texture.

6. Pour the filling over the crust and spread evenly.

7. Place in freezer for a few hours to harden. It can then be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, or in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Enjoy!

Health Coach Jenna

 

 

 

 

 

High Performance Blueberry Smoothie

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I like to break my fasts with a meal loaded with healthy fats. One of my go to smoothies is this High Performance Blueberry Smoothie. It’s creamy and delicious, and has lots of protein and healthy fats to keep my body and brain fueled for hours, and my hormones balanced. Hello high performance ⚡️!

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup coconut yogurt or kefir (no sugar added)
  • 1 cup dairy free milk
  • Handful of leafy greens
  • 1/4-1/2 avocado
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Vega Sport)
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 tbs ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbs almond butter
  • Dash of cinnamon

Blend and top with blueberries and Lily’s sugar-free chocolate chips 😋

Enjoy!

Health Coach Jenna

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3 Steps to Conscious Eating

eatingConscious eating is a major and necessary feature of our plant-based philosophy, a philosophy that extends out of the kitchen, off of our plates and into the wider world, informing how we interact with others and how we treat our environment.

The opposite of conscious eating – unconscious eating, is practiced by most people in the world today. It is the default operating mode for almost everyone when it comes to choices made about food, overwhelmingly so in developed countries. It’s an easy and low cost way of eating supported by businesses and society alike. And the most insidious quality of unconscious eating is that most people know no other way, or even suspect that there is an alternative.

As more and more people awaken to the disastrous effects the animal agriculture industries are having on our planet and the effects their ‘food’ is having on our health, unconscious eating is giving way to conscious eating.

As Eldridge Cleaver said, “There is no more neutrality in the world. You are either part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”

3 Steps to Begin Your Journey Into conscious Eating:

1.  Expand your Knowledge

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance” – Confucius

Before we begin to make profound changes in the way we eat, it helps to be exposed to the ideas that lead us there. A lifetime of healthy food choices can be built on the right foundation of knowledge.

There are numerous books, films and websites that expose us to the truth about the food we eat, and educate us about a healthier, more sustainable way of eating and living.

Make a point of studying and researching for yourself. Arm yourself with facts before opinions. The more you know about the subjects of animal agriculture and the negative health effects of animal products on our health the more you are naturally inclined towards eating consciously.

Resources to expand your awareness:

How Not To Die, by Gene Stone and Michael Greger.

A painstakingly thoroughly well-researched book about the benefits of plant-based diets and the insidious effects of animal products.

Earthlings

This film narrated by Joaquin Phoenix strikes at the emotional level, highlighting the reality behind factory farming and research labs among others.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

This film addresses the real cost of animal agriculture on the environment.

More resources can also be found at The Plant-based Plan Resources

2. Stop and Think

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 We are all creatures of habit. Our negative lifestyle decisions are usually made subconsciously. We all do it as we stroll through the aisles of the supermarket, mindlessly throwing packages into the trolley that are no good for us, or the environment.

Conscious eating is also a habit that needs to be established through practice.

So how do we practice?

When you find yourself in a situation where you need to make a choice about food, take a moment to stop and ask yourself this question:

Based on my current understanding, will purchasing or eating this food lead to better health, vitality and moral satisfaction for myself, or will it potentially damage my health, lead to suffering for the creatures we share our planet with or damage the environment?

In the beginning you may find yourself coming to the conclusion that the food is not healthy or environmentally friendly, but you just throw it in the trolley anyway. I’m that way with Häagen-Dazs ice cream, it just short-circuits my common sense.

But the important thing is to exercise your mind in this way continuously.

By doing so, you bring your negative lifestyle choices into awareness on a daily basis, rather than just ignoring them, and we can only take so much of our own irresponsible actions before we decide to make changes.

3. Simplify

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The world of food, whether it be the aisles in the supermarket, the gaudy primary colours of the fast food restaurant, or the dimly lit elegance of an upmarket bistro, has become an arena of entertainment, designed to appeal to the senses and draw you in with tastes and flavours.

This approach makes food one of the great pleasures in life, even though it may be killing us.

Millions of years of evolutionary biology have programmed us to relish the intense flavours of sugars, salt and fats. We are programmed to stock up on sweet and fatty foods when they are abundant because in the past we would inevitably have been faced with long periods without them.

But now we live in a world of permanent abundance. This state of affairs has only existed for around half a century, but how quickly we have seen the disastrous effects of ‘stocking up’ on a daily basis, in the skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Conscious eating therefore requires us to step back and make a sacrifice and a commitment.

We sacrifice the artificial flavours of the packaged sauces for the simplicity of lemon juice and vinegar, for example.

We learn to enjoy beans and nuts and vegetables as they are, without complicated and unnecessary preparations.

We choose a food primarily for it’s health benefits, rather than it’s tastiness.

We make a commitment to sometimes stay at home and eat simply rather than disconnect ourselves from the process in a restaurant.

Simplifying our kitchens, our eating habits and our lives in general is a powerful way to benefit our health and contribute to the well-being of our planet and our fellow earthlings.

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About Donny McFarlane

Donny McFarlane is an English teacher, yoga teacher, freediver, generally enthusiastic mover and plant-based lifestyle advocate.

He has independently researched nutrition and the relationship between health and food for more than a decade. Switching to a 100% plant-based diet was the catalyst that reversed years of negative lifestyle choices and allowed him to excel athletically, personally and spiritually.

Visit The Plant Based Plan for meticulously designed and beautifully laid out 100% plant-based, vegan meal plans and recipes.

Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie

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My favorite ice cream flavor growing up was Mint Chocolate Chip. These days, I’m not a dairy eater, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I still enjoy mint chocolate chip treats!

This morning I had dessert for brekkie (as usual) with this vegan Mint Chocolate Chip smoothie. Who knew having dessert for breakfast could give you 24 servings of organic veggies and fruits, plus probiotics? Thanks to Paradise’s Orac Energy Green powder, with one scoop I’m covered.

So don’t believe those lies that you have to eat your veggies before you can have your pudding. You can have it all at the same time, and not even taste the green. This Mint Chocolate Chip smoothie is so good, even my husband asked for one. When I told him I put what he calls “green powder” in it, he didn’t believe me.

Find out how to make this smoothie below, and to order your Energy Green powder, use the code QCW626 to get $5 off.

Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie Recipe:

  • 1 cup dairy free milk (I use Koh coconut)
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1tbs chia seeds
  • 1 scoop Orac Energy Greens
  • 1 scoop Vanilla protein powder ( I use Vega)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • handful of ice cubes
  • 1/4 tsp of peppermint oil
  • 1 tbs. raw cacao
  • Blend and top with dark chocolate if desired.

Enjoy!

Health Coach Jenna

 

Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake (Vegan)

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetRaspberries and chocolate. You just can’t go wrong. And this vegan and gluten free raspberry chocolate recipe came just in time for the holidays. Okay, so it’s not traditional. But I’m sure the pecan pie won’t mind the company. I mean-raspberries are just so darn pretty.

Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped dates
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4-1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup raw cacao
  • 8×8 baking pan
  • baking paper

What to do:

  1. Okay y’all, first you need to take 2 cups cashews and soak em’ for about 6-8 hours.
  2. Then, we need to make the crust because it has to chill in the freezer for about an hour before we can put the filling in. For the crust take 2 1/2 cups desiccated unsweetened coconut, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/3 cup chopped dates. Put this all in blender or food processor and blend until it starts sticking together. Line an  8×8 pan with baking paper and then pack the crust into her nice and tight. Make sure to pack it hard because if you don’t the crust will fall apart and that would be tragic. Now stick her back in the freezer.
  3. For the chocolate, take 1/3 cup coconut oil and place in a saucepan (double broiler if you’ve got it so it doesn’t come into direct contact with heat) and stir over low heat. Add 1/3 cup maple syrup and stir. When it’s nice and warm add 3/4 cup raw cacao and a pinch of sea salt. Stir until silky smoooooth.
  4. Now, take the crust out of the freezer and pour the liquid chocolate and spread evenly to make a thin chocolatey later over the crust.
  5. For the filling: Take your drained cashews, 2 tbs. lemon juice,2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbs coconut oil, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and full fat coconut milk. Blend until nice and creamy. Keep on adding coco milk until there are no chunks and it is completely creamy and smooth.
  6. Now, fold in 2 cups raspberries into the cheesecake batter.
  7. Take your crust out of the freezer and pour your filling on top and spread nice and evenly.
  8. Place back in the freezer for a few hours.
  9. Take out and store in the fridge. I like to cut the cheesecake after it’s been in the fridge for a bit as it’s softer and easier to cut.

And for the best part- enjoy!!!

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xxxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

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Egg Nog Smoothie (Vegan)

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThanksgiving is over, so it’s officially time to bring out all things Christmas! This is my favorite time of the year ( I’m not really that bothered about Thanksgiving to be honest- blasphemous I know!!) So in honor of today, I’ve made a vegan Egg Nog Smoothie.

Let the holidays begin, and the Christmas music be loud. 🎼 🎼🎼

Recipe 

  • 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk or coconut kefir
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tbs ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1 scoop of your favorite non-GMO plant-based protein powder (I use Vega Sport Vanilla)
  • a few cubes of ice.

Blend and enjoy Christmas for brekkie!!!

xxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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Who said you can’t have dessert for brekkie? This Pumpkin Pie Smoothie is proof you can have your pie and eat it too. It’s packed with protein and healthy fats, and will keep you satisfied until lunch.

Recipe:

  • 5 frozen pumpkin cubes ( I take leftover pumpkin purée and put in ice cube trays to use for smoothie)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened nut milk of your choice (I use full-fat coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp maca powder (opt)
  • 1 scoop of your favorite Non-GMO vanilla plant-based protein powder. ( I use Vega Sport Vanilla)

Put in blender and enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Health Coach Jenna

 

A Complete Protein Eating Guide for Vegans and Vegetarians

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One of the most popular misconceptions that people have about a plant based diet is that it is impossible to get enough protein without meat. Well guess what? I’m here to inform you that this is a myth!

It is entirely possible to get your daily requirement of protein without eating meat. In fact, the leanest, cleanest sources of protein are beans and other legumes, as less than five percent of their calories from fat. They are also free of cholesterol, hormones, and antibiotics.

So what makes a complete protein?

A complete protein refers to the building blocks of protein, called amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids that form a protein, and nine that the body can’t make on it’s own. These nine amino acids are called essential amino acids. They are essential because we need to eat them, as our bodies can’t make them.

For a food to be deemed a complete protein, it must contain all the nine essential amino acids in close to equal amounts.

So while meat and eggs are indeed complete proteins, nuts and beans aren’t. But hold the phone! This doesn’t mean you can’t get all of your essential amino acids on a plant based diet! We don’t need every essential amino acid in every bite of food, we just need a sufficient amount of each amino acid every day.

So with a combination of different plant based foods each day, it’s easy breezy to get all of the essential amino acids your body needs!

First, let’s go over the plant based foods that are complete proteins. And as we discussed earlier, a complete protein means that you get all of the nine essential amino acids by eating a portion of it on its own.

Vegan Complete Protein Sources:

  1. quinoaQuinoa- 8 grams of protein per one cooked cup
  2. Buckwheat- 6 grams of protein per one cooked cup
  3. Avocado- 3 grams of protein per one avocado
  4. Soy- 10grams of protein per ½ cup firm tofu, 15 grams of protein per ½ cup tempeh. (Please eat soy in moderation, make sure it is non-GMO, and remember to only eat soy in its fermented version- tempeh, tofu, miso)
  5. Quorn (Mycoprotein)- 13 grams per ½ cup serving.
  6. Protein powder- The content varies by brand, but most have around 22 grams per serving. Make sure when buying to choose one that is non-GMO, and that has a complete amino acid profile.
  7. Ezekiel Bread- Ezekiel bread is made from wheat (they also make a gluten free version), barley, millet, beans, lentils, and spelt, making it a complete protein. The bread is also made using sprouted grain, which increases the bread’s fiber and vitamin content. This also makes it easier to digest.

Honorary members:

You might have notice that hempseeds and chia seeds are missing from this list. Although they do contain all nine essential amino acids, they are both too low in lysine to be considered complete. But they are still excellent forms of protein! I love to add them to my smoothies and oatmeal. Hemp seeds are also great stir-fried with vegetables, and they make an excellent salad topping.

  1. Hempseeds- 10 grams per 2 tablespoon serving
  2. Chia Seeds- 4 grams per 2 tablespoon serving

Now, let’s talk about how to pair plant based foods to create a complete serving of protein.

The Amazing Duos: 

  1. Rice and beans-

Rice and beans complement each other perfectly as beans are low in methionine and high in lysine, and rice is low in lysine and high in methionine. Combine these two and you have a meal with heaps of complete protein.

  1. Peanut butter sandwich-

Combine peanut butter (or your favorite nut butter)  with whole grain and you get a complete protein! Remember to choose organic peanut butter with no oil and sugar, as the oils tend to be full of hydrogenated fats and sugar is toxic. Make sure to use a whole grain bread, and even better, choose a gluten free bread!

  1. Hummus and pita-

Wheat is deficient in lysine, but guess what? Chickpeas are high in lysiene! Pair these two for a complete protein.

     4. Spirulina with grains

Spirulina is lacking in methionine and cysteine, but combine it with nuts, seeds, or oats and you have a complete protein. My favorite way to combine these is in a green smoothie.

  1. Oats with nuts or peanut butter-

Add some peanut butter or nuts to your oatmeal and you are in business.

Basically, combine any grain with a nut, seed, or legume, and you have yourself a complete protein. The possibilities are endless.

So what is the right amount of protein?  Click HERE to find out!

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Health Coach Jenna

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Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars (Vegan)

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It’s November, so it means all thing pumpkin, y’all. And I’m on a mission. I’m going to make as many pumpkin treats as humanly possible in order to convince my English husband that pumpkin is exciting.  It turns out that the hoopla over pumpkin treats is shared only by Americans.

I know right?! I’m just as shocked as you are.

The first recipe up is one from Rachl Mansfield. I love all of her creations, especially because she has an affinity for peanut butter and oats just like I do. I think we might be soul sisters.

The recipe was simple to follow and the results were delicious. And better yet, the Englishman approved! Up until now his only experience with pumpkin is one traditional pumpkin pie from his visit to the U.S. last Thanksgiving. He wasn’t really into that, but he really liked these.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars:

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Makes: 9 bars

INGREDIENTS
  • Cheesecake Filling:
  • 1.5 cups soaked cashews (about 10-12 hours in warm water)
  • ½ cup gluten-free old fashioned oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • ½ cup maple syrup (can sub honey)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (melted and cooled)
  • ⅓ cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk (can sub your preferred nut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Pumpkin Swirl:
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Crust:
  • 2 cups gluten-free oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 cups pitted medjool dates
  • ½ cup almond butter (or your favorite nut butter)
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Toppings:
  • ⅓ cup pecans (can sub whatever nut you’d like)
 Instructions:
  1. In a food processor, pulse together oatmeal, dates, almond butter and cinnamon until a “dough” is formed, the ingredients should be well blended together
  2. Spray an 8×8 baking dish or line it with parchment paper and press the crust into the dish
  3. Wipe out the food processor to get rid of extra crumbs (no need to fully clean) and place the “cheesecake” ingredients in the food processor
  4. Pulse together until it is a doughy, creamy consistency
  5. Leave to the side for now and beat together the pumpkin and pumpkin spice together with a kitchen aid OR you can wipe out your food processor and use that
  6. Add the “cheesecake” mixture on top of the crust, spreading evenly
  7. Add a spoon of the pumpkin mixture on top of each “cheesecake”
  8. Swirl together gently with the end of a spoon or knife (mine didn’t turn out as pretty as I wished!)
  9. Add pecans on top
  10. Pop in the fridge for about 2-3 hours or until firm
  11. Enjoy! Will stay good in fridge for 4-5 days or 2 weeks in freeze
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Happy Pumpkin Month!
Health Coach Jenna