Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Almost everyone loves to include pumpkin in many recipes during the fall—and I’m no exception. But I like to make sure my recipe is as healthy as possible by including health-supporting ingredients that are also big on flavor. So, I created this incredible Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole for breakfast—and it was delicious!

Rich, filling, and guilt-free, it’s one of those recipes that you will turn to again and again. Plus, it can be made the night before, meaning there’s minimal prep in the morning. All you have to do it get up and pop it in the oven! But aside from being easy for busy mornings, what makes this Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole healthy? Keep reading to learn more about the ingredients!


Key Ingredients

First, my Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole features the obvious star: pumpkin. As you may recall, pumpkin is a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. And vitamin A has been shown to support immunity, eye health, and even memory.

Additionally, this pumpkin French toast casserole recipe contains coconut sugar in place of inflammatory table sugar, meaning you’re able to enjoy the sweetness without the unwanted effects to your waistline and blood sugar levels!

Finally, another key ingredient in this recipe is that it calls for a tablespoon of cinnamon. Known to support your health in many ways, cinnamon was found to help lower fasting blood glucose levels by up to 29 percent and even improve insulin sensitivity! Plus, it naturally contains anti-inflammatory properties and supports healthy blood pressure levels.

Just remember to purchase Ceylon cinnamon for the most benefit, which offers more benefits than the more common cassia cinnamon.


How to Make Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

To make my Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole, heat coconut milk over the stove until steaming and then steep two bags of chai tea for about 5 minutes. Next, combine pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a bowl.

Once the mixture is smooth, use it to coat the bread. Then, transfer your bread to a greased baking dish and top with pecans. Let it set for 10 minutes and then bake at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes.

I like to serve my pumpkin French toast casserole with agave syrup, but maple syrup tastes amazing, too! And there you have it—the most amazing Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole recipe you’ll ever make!


Chai Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Serves: 8

Time: 50 minutes

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pinge;



2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

2 bags chai tea (decaffeinated, if desired)

⅓ cup unsweetened pumpkin puree

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup coconut sugar

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 pound sprouted whole grain bread, cubed (gluten-free)

½ cup pecans, roughly chopped

Topping: maple syrup or agave (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a pot over medium heat, warm the coconut milk until steaming. Remove from the heat and add the bags of chai tea. Steep for 5 minutes, then remove and discard the tea bags.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pinge;

2. In an extra-large mixing bowl, combine the infused coconut milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, coconut sugar, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Whisk until smooth.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pingel

3. Add the bread to the pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a lightly greased baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with the pecans. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pingel

4. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pingel

5. Serve warm. Top with maple syrup or agave, if desired.

Pumpkin French toast casserole - Dr. Pingel

Tip: Prep this the night before. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Fall Candle

Fall is upon us, meaning the cooler, crisp air leaves us craving warmth and coziness (cue hygge lifestyle!)—and perhaps even the infamous PSL (aka pumpkin spice latte)! So, I thought what better way is there to combine some classic fall favorites than to create a recipe for a DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Fall Candle?!

After all, the options you can buy in stores are full of synthetic, toxic ingredients that really aren’t safe for you or your family to breathe in. In fact, research has shown that your average store-bought candle exposes you to indoor air pollution, fragrances linked to both developmental and reproductive negative effects, the carcinogens formaldehyde and benzene, and toxic paraffin wax that has been linked to everything from asthma to cancer!

The truth of the matter is that the only way to avoid these harmful substances is by knowing the source of your candle or making your own that’s made solely from a base of soy, coconut or beeswax.

How to Make a PSL Fall Candle

For this DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Fall Candle, I used soy wax as my base, which I melted in a pot over medium-low heat. Then I added in a few tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice from my kitchen spice rack! And that’s it—simple, pure, whole ingredients that I can feel comfortable using around my family, which means you can, too!

Once you stir the pumpkin spice into the wax, you have the base of your fall candle ready to go. All it has to do is set! For that step, simply hold a wick in the center of a glass jar as you pour in the pumpkin spice wax mixture. I used skewers to hold the wick in place as the wax set, as it tends to take a few hours.

And that’s all there is to it! Once the candle is set, light the wick, curl up with a good book and blanket, and enjoy the warm scents of fall as you relax, unwind, and de-stress from a long day. To get the full recipe, keep scrolling—and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!


DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Fall Candle

Makes: 1 candle

Time: 10 minutes (+ 4 hours to set)

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel


2 pounds grated soy wax

3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

1 glass mug or jar

1 wick

2 skewers or popsicle sticks


1. In a pot, melt the wax over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until liquid.

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

2. Remove from the heat and add the pumpkin pie spice. Stir to incorporate.

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

3. Hold the wick in the center of the glass as you pour in the wax mixture.

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

4. Use skewers to hold the wick in the center until the candle is set.

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

5. Once set, light your candle and enjoy!

Fall candle - Dr. Pingel

Energy-Boosting Smoothie

Looking for a way to get a quick and easy energy boost? Try my go-to Energy-Boosting Smoothie, which I "turbocharge" with a special secret ingredient!

It helps me stay energized and focused all day long so that I'm able to cross off everything on my to-do list and still have energy to spend time with my family at the end of the day. Plus, it's absolutely delicious!

So, what makes this smoothie so tasty and effective? First, my Energy-Boosting Smoothie contains healthy energy-providing protein such as plant-based yogurt, chia seeds, and a very special ingredient: Total Energy.

Total Energy is a supplement that contains the adaptogenic herbs ashwagandha, rhodiola, and schisandra berry—all known to help boost energy levels and reduce fatigue. [1, 2] And while it isn’t required for this Energy-Boosting Smoothie, I definitely notice a difference when I include it!

But this smoothie isn’t just energy-boosting; it’s also delicious and filling, featuring fibrous, satiety-supporting rolled oats and the natural sweetness of bananas, strawberries, and dates.

Between the flavor profile and health benefits, I like to drink the Energy-Boosting Smoothie for breakfast to help get my day off to the right start with a productive morning and energy that carries me through to the evening. Plus, it’s a quick to throw together, making it a perfect breakfast option on hectic school mornings!

Ready to try it out for yourself? Keep reading to get the recipe!


Energy-Boosting Smoothie

Makes: 1 smoothie

Time: 5 minutes


Energy-boosting smoothie - Dr. Pingel



¼ cup rolled oats

¼ cup sliced frozen banana

¼ cup frozen strawberries

2 tablespoons unsweetened plant-based yogurt

1 date, pitted

1 tablespoons chia seeds

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup ice

½ cup water or plant-based milk

1 capsule Total Energy (optional)


1. In a blender, combine all ingredients. For an extra boost, open one capsule of Total Energy and empty the contents into the mixture. Process until smooth.

Energy-boosting smoothie - Dr. Pingel

2. Transfer to a cup and drink immediately.

Energy-boosting smoothie - Dr. Pingel

Trail Mix Recipe for Kids: Trail Mix 3 Ways

With back-to-school upon us, we have a lot more to balance than over the summer—and that includes making healthy lunches and snacks, such as a great-tasting trail mix recipe for kids.

This trail mix recipe for kids, which I’ve named Trail Mix 3 Ways, is a family favorite and so easy and simple to put together. Plus, you can make it in a large batch for the whole week and either throw some in the kids' lunch boxes or save it for a healthy after school snack.

Even better? You can make it three different ways becomes it comes with customizable options based on your kids' preferences! Learn a little more about each and then follow your preferred trail mix recipe for kids and sit back as your children rave about their new favorite snack!


Trail mix recipe for kids - Dr. Pingel

Trail Mix 1: Figgie Choco Crunch

This trail mix recipe for kids is geared toward the chocolate lover. But you don’t have to indulge in sugar-filled milk chocolate to satisfy this craving.

For the Figgie Choco Crunch trail mix, I’ve combined antioxidant-rich vegan dark chocolate chips with protein-packed chickpeas and peanuts along with naturally sweet cranberries and fibrous figs.

Your little ones will be so thrilled by the sweet, rich flavors in this trail mix, that they’ll never suspect that this trail mix recipe for kids also supports satiety, digestion, cognitive function, and more!


Trail mix recipe for kids - Dr. Pingel

Trail Mix 2: Tropical Tango

The next delicious trail mix recipe for kids is ideal for those who love tropical, fruity flavors.

The Tropical Tango trail mix recipe features delicious papaya and mango, the latter of which has been used in natural remedies for over 4,000 years! In fact, you may be surprised to learn that mango contains more than 20 vitamins and minerals and is a great source of both fiber and complex carbohydrates.

I made sure to include filling nuts such as cashews and pecans to promote satiety in-between meals and also support both immune health and blood sugar levels.


Trail mix recipe for kids - Dr. Pingel

Trail Mix 3: Sweet & Salty Mix

Finally, this trail mix recipe for kids is best for those who don’t either have a strong love of chocolate or fruity foods, but prefer a blend of sweet and salty flavors.

The Sweet & Salty Mix combines flavorful pistachios with brain health-supporting walnuts, salty gluten-free pretzels, and some antioxidant-rich cranberries and apricots for a bit of sweetness.

Ready to dive in and make the best-fitting trail mix for your kid? Keep reading to get the quick and easy recipe!


Trail Mix Recipe for Kids: Trail Mix 3 Ways

Makes: About 1 cup each

Time: 5 minutes

Trail mix recipe for kids - Dr. Pingel



For the Figgie Choco Crunch:

¼ cup peanuts

¼ cup honey roasted chickpeas

3 tablespoons diced figs

3 tablespoons dried cranberries

2 tablespoons mini vegan dark chocolate chips

For the Tropical Tango:

¼ cup raw cashews

¼ cup raw pecans

3 tablespoons chopped dried mango

3 tablespoons chopped dried papaya

For the Sweet & Salty Mix:

¼ cup roasted pistachios

¼ cup raw walnuts

¼ cup gluten-free pretzels, broken into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

2 tablespoons dried apricots


1. Using a separate bowl for each trail mix, mix the ingredients until combined.

Trail mix recipe for kids - Dr. Pingel

2. Store in an airtight container.

Trail mix recipe for kids - Dr. Pingel

3-Step Banana Oat Pancakes

I love making easy, delicious, and nutritious breakfasts with my boys—and these 3-Step Banana Oat Pancakes are a favorite! 

They feature health-promoting apple cider vinegar and are customizable based on your preferences. Love the oat flavor? Use oat milk. Want something a little different? Use a nut-based milk. 

These banana oat pancakes are also gluten-free, meaning they work for every diet and lifestyle! Plus, you make them in a blender, meaning they’re quick, easy, and require less clean-up.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the health-supporting ingredients and then dive into the recipe.

First, the base of these delicious 3-Step Banana Oat Pancakes is reflected in the name: bananas and oats!

Bananas are known to be rich in potassium, with one banana containing 422 milligrams of potassium.

Now, potassium is important because it’s an essential mineral that your body needs for many functions—from supporting healthy blood pressure levels to regulating circulation, thereby reducing the risk of developing heart disease. [1, 2

And the best way to get potassium into your body? Through your diet with foods such as bananas! [3]

Meanwhile, the gluten-free rolled oats in these banana oat pancakes are a great source of copper, iodine, iron, molybdenum, and zinc. But that’s not all.

​​Oats also contain a powerful fiber known as beta-glucan, which may help to prevent and even treat metabolic syndrome. This is important because metabolic syndrome is associated with the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. [4, 5]

Studies have also shown that consuming foods with beta-glucans helps to regulate cholesterol by lowering LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol.” [6]

Finally, I have to mention a final “secret” ingredient that I include in as many of my dishes as possible: apple cider vinegar (ACV).

Here’s why: ACV has so many benefits, it’s impossible to go into them all here. But here’s a sample: it’s known to support healthy blood sugar levels, aid digestion, and even help reduce belly fat! 

Want to learn more about this powerhouse ingredient and why it’s a must-have for these banana oat pancakes? Make sure to check out my article on the 7 Incredible Health Benefits of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar.

Now, are you ready to give them a taste and discover how they’re just as delicious as they are healthy? Keep reading for the recipe!


3-Step Banana Oat Pancakes

Makes: 6 to 8 pancakes

Time: 8 minutes


Banana oat pancakes - Dr. Pingel



1 ripe medium banana

¾ cup gluten-free rolled oats 

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon sea salt

⅓ cup dairy-free milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons aquafaba*

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract



1. In a high speed blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Banana oat pancakes - Dr. Pingel

2. Lightly grease a griddle over medium heat.

Banana oat pancakes - Dr. Pingel

3. Scoop 2 tablespoons at a time onto the griddle to make 6-8 pancakes. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until the edges are set, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve warm or freeze individually.

Banana oat pancakes - Dr. Pingel


12 Healthy Plant-Based Recipes for Vegans & Non-Vegans

Ready to kick meat to the curb (or at least cut back on your consumption), but not sure what to substitute? You've landed at the right place!

Today, we're discussing my top plant-based recipes: which ones made the list, why, and how to make them.

Get ready to get excited about being in the kitchen! Let’s dive in!


Dr. Pingel’s Top 15 Favorite Plant-Based Recipes

Each of the recipes below contain some of my favorite foods and offer a fun twist on some classics that may not be so good for you. Make sure to go through the entire list of plant-based recipes … these are definitely ones I categorize as “must-try recipes” for my friends and family!


Carrot ginger turmeric soup - Dr. Pingel

1. Carrot Ginger Turmeric Soup with Roasted Chickpeas

Featured in my 7-day detox as well as the Total Health Turnaround Program, this Carrot Ginger Turmeric Soup with Roasted Chickpeas is one my very favorite plant-based recipes.

It’s not only flavorful but also contains naturally detoxifying foods that support both digestive and liver health.


12 Healthy Plant-Based Recipes for Vegans & Non-Vegans 1

2. The Best Ever Lentil Sloppy Joes

Appropriately named The Best Ever Lentil Sloppy Joes, this recipe is rich and flavorful, yet free of inflammatory red meat and gluten. Plus, it’s filled with some great ingredients designed to leave you feeling satisfied and energized!

Featuring 12 g of protein and more than 30 percent of the fiber you need each day, it’s no wonder it made my list of favorite plant-based recipes!


Blueberry shrub recipe - Dr. Pingel

3. The Ultimate Mocktail: Dr. Pingel’s Blueberry Shrub Recipe

If you’re looking for a cool, refreshing beverage, you’ll want to give this blueberry shrub recipe a try.

Not only is it filled with delicious flavors such as sweet blueberries and refreshing mint, but it also features some of nature’s most healthy ingredients, such as blueberries and apple cider vinegar.


Easy vegan crab cakes - Dr. Pingel

4. Easy Vegan Crab Cakes

There’s nothing quite like the delicious and indulgent taste of crab cakes. But what should you do if you’re trying to avoid seafood? I have just the answer that you may be searching for in this list of plant-based recipes: my Easy Vegan Crab Cakes!

The base of these Easy Vegan Crab Cakes is made of artichoke hearts and jackfruit. Artichoke is high in digestion-supporting fiber and has an incredibly rich nutritional profile.

Meanwhile, studies have shown that consuming just 20 grams of jackfruit extract significantly reduced blood sugar levels and improved glucose tolerance in people both with and without diabetes. [1]

That’s a major win-win when it comes to health benefits and taste!


12 Healthy Plant-Based Recipes for Vegans & Non-Vegans 2

5. Blueberry Vanilla Quinoa Bowl

Quinoa for breakfast? Don’t let the idea scare you away. This Blueberry Vanilla Quinoa Bowl is just as good as—if not better than—your typical breakfast oatmeal, which is why it made the cut for my top plant-based recipes.

You may be surprised to learn that quinoa contains eight essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. [2] But you may be even more surprised to learn that it actually has twice the amount of protein as oatmeal—and it’s known to promote digestive health. How incredible is that?!


Easy homemade hummus - Dr. Pingel

6. Easy Homemade Hummus

Looking for a quick and easy healthy snack? Look no further! My Easy Homemade Hummus recipe is delicious, filled with nutritious ingredients, and ready in only 5 minutes! As a bonus, you can pair it with fresh veggies for the ultimately healthy and filling treat.

So, why did it make the list of my favorite plant-based recipes? This hummus is so delicious that it’s become a top-requested item from my family and friends at gatherings. It’s guaranteed to be a hit at yours, too!


Sweet potato black bean nachos - Dr. Pingel

7. Sweet Potato Black Bean Nachos

Featuring filling sweet potatoes, protein-packed beans, and a variety of health-promoting spices, these nachos will leave you feeling satisfied and energized until your next meal.

But that’s not all that these Sweet Potato Black Bean Nachos have to offer.

They also contain black beans and kidney beans, which have been linked to lower spikes in blood sugar. [3]


Vegan appetizers - Dr. Pingel

8. Easy BBQ Cauliflower Wings with Vegan Ranch Dipping Sauce

Who doesn’t love a good wing recipe? These BBQ cauliflower wings offer a vegan, healthy spin on a classic food, making it a great addition to this list of amazing plant-based recipes. But you don’t have to be vegan to love this recipe.

They are coated with the most delicious maple sriracha sauce guaranteed to please everyone.


Vegan Shish Kebab - Dr. Pingel

9. The BEST Tasty Vegan Shish Kebab Recipe!

A vegan shish kebab is an easy way to pack a bunch of nutrient-dense veggies (and fruits) into your system. They’re definitely a favorite in my household.

In fact, I like to make this with my kids to encourage healthy eating that they’re excited about. Anytime I get them into the kitchen with me, they’re more likely to enjoy what they’re eating because they helped make it!


Vegan burger

10. The Best Vegan Burger Recipe for Your Next BBQ

I can’t have a list of top plant-based recipes without including an incredible burger option. Besides, what goes better on the grill than juicy, filling burgers—with a twist?!

So, what’s the twist? It’s totally customizable! You start with a base such as beans or lentils, and then you mix your base with nuts or seeds, vegetables, or whatever else you’d like to incorporate.

Next, you need to include the “glue” to hold it together, such as soaked chia seeds, sweet potato, tahini, nut butter, or a sticky grain.

Finally, you add in your favorite spices. And that’s it! Super easy, super delicious!


Vegan chocolate tart recipe - Dr. Pingel

11. Decadent Vegan Chocolate Tart Recipe

While it looks like a typical chocolate tart, this recipe has a plot twist: it features one of my favorite healthy fat sources—avocado!

While I was creating this vegan tart, it dawned on me that I should mix my love for chocolate with my love for avocado. And it’s perfect for this dessert because it provides the creamy, rich texture you expect in a decadent chocolate tart.

Every list of amazing plant-based recipes should feature one decadent dessert—and this is it!


Best tasting green smoothie - Dr. Pingel

12. Best Tasting Green Smoothie

While green smoothies often get a bad rap for tasting “grassy,” my Best Tasting Green Smoothie features tropical flavors and a natural sweetness you’re guaranteed to love.

The best part (and the reason it made my list of plant-based recipes you’ll love)? This recipe comes with a ton of health benefits—from supporting healthy blood sugar levels to relieving constipation. [4, 5]