Just when I think I can’t come up with another awesome pumpkin dessert recipe, I do! This is a pumpkin pie meets a crumble meets a gingersnap cookie! What’s not to love? And it’s so easy, has make-ahead written all over it and can be adaptable. There are many twists on this recipe including a graham cracker crust or a chocolate cookie crust and you can omit the crumble topping if you want to keep this simple.Continue reading
Not all pumpkin recipes have to be sweet! This Roasted Pumpkin Fondue is an old recipe from Gourmet Magazine that I made back in the day but shelved it because it was too rich and heavy. My friend Katie Morford lightened it up and it’s even better than the original version! Think soft and gooey cheese on the inside with cubes of whatever bread you like + tender pumpkin. It’s comforting and delicious and could be a full meal with a simple salad on the side. After shooting this with an amazing dark multi-grain, seeded bread, I realized that a lighter color bread looks more appetizing. But this tasted phenomenal!Continue reading
Halloween is next week and it is a big day for treats! I’ll admit, the last few years I haven’t posted any sweets before Halloween because I figured there’s plenty of candy to go around. Who needs another food from the sugar category? Upon rethinking, I’ve decided there is room for higher quality treats, especially when the options might otherwise be supermarket cupcakes with artificially-colored frosting, marshmallow ghosts or candy corn brownies. Yikes! I can’t handle it and neither can my blood sugar, mood and skin.
It’s really hard to avoid sugar on Halloween, but keep in mind this is when a lot of people fall into the downward spiral of eating dessert too often. First comes Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then pre-Christmas parties, etc. Just putting it out there to be a little mindful when your kids’ trick or treat baskets tempt you.
My kids and my husband are bonkers for these pumpkin chocolate chips bars. Or maybe they’re like pumpkin chocolate chip blondies, because they’re kind of dense. They’re definitely not the same texture of a muffin, which is spongy and light. These are super moist, flavorful, just sweet enough with the perfect amount of chocolate chips. But if you don’t like chocolate (and we’re friends?), use currants or chopped pecans instead. In my opinion (and that’s all you get around here,) the key to pumpkin desserts is the combination of spices. And for me, the spices in this recipe are perfect with both the pumpkin and the chocolate chips, too– predominantly cinnamon with nutmeg and a touch of cloves for spiciness. I taught these in my cooking classes 2 years ago and they were a huge hit!
I make these with either whole wheat pastry flour or whole spelt flour. Both are delicious. And I always make the cake with coconut sugar, which is minimally processed and unrefined. But if you can’t find it, the recipe works with white sugar, too. The photo above shows one cake made with coconut sugar (left) and one made with cane sugar (right.) I can’t tell the difference in taste, honestly.
You can make your own pumpkin puree very easily. Click here for the how-to. And whereas making your own from scratch is always best, sometimes we just don’t have the time. There are a few good brands of organic pumpkin in BPA-free packages. I do prefer tetrapaks over cans, though. I buy Farmers Market brand organic pumpkin in tetrapaks from Whole Foods or amazon.
Have you made my vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies? If you’re new here, do not hesitate. They are fantastic! They’re a staple around here and definitely one of the more healthful (less bad for you?) cookies I’ve tried. I love that recipe so much I decided to tinker with it and make a fall version with pumpkin puree and delicious spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Amazing! It’s like pumpkin pie meets an oatmeal cookie. And as much I love these cookies fresh out of the oven, they are just as delicious raw. That’s right, as in cookie dough. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. After I posted my secret pumpkin oatmeal cookie dough addiction on Instagram, my students started stealing the bowl out from under my nose during class and having a taste themselves! The benefits of a vegan dough.
I thought I would sneak this recipe in today before you start baking treats for Halloween. Of course, these are perfect during the entire season of fall and beyond. They’re a snap to make and like many cookie recipes, you can prepare the dough in advance and bake as many or as few cookies as you need. I like these best the day they’re made and even the next day. Because there’s pumpkin in them, they get a little soft after a day.
This recipe ended up being more flexible than I imagined. I had to try it with a nut other than walnuts one day for a student with a walnut allergy and pecans worked great. I haven’t tried this recipe with sunflower seeds, but I think it would work if you need to go nut-free. The sunflower seeds just might react with the baking soda, however, and cause the cookies to have a green-ish color to the them. Might be kind of cool for Halloween! I know many of you will want to sub chocolate chips for the raisins and I say go for it! Pumpkin + chocolate + spices isn’t my thing, but that doesn’t mean you won’t love it. I was serving these in my classes plain and simple, but I found a recipe for a fun sweet potato-cream cheese frosting that was delicious as a filling if you wanted to make a sort of oatmeal cookie whoopie pie. Just for kicks.
However, like I always say, just because these cookies are higher quality and not made with junk and chemicals doesn’t mean you can eat them all day long. Concentrated sweeteners can still raise your blood sugar and will still feed yeast and fungus in your system and will keep you addicted to sugar. So with the beginning of the season of sweets, which I say starts on Halloween and ends on New Years Day, I try to be conscientious about not going crazy when I am offered candy and treats galore. But before we start thinking about 2014, we’ve got lots of fun in store. Thanksgiving is indeed four weeks from Halloween which means you and I are going into planning mode pronto. See you all back here on Thursday!
1 ½ cups oat flour (see Step #2) (use certified gluten-free oat flour if you are gluten-free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 ¾ cups raw walnuts or pecans
6 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (it doesn’t need to be melted)
¼ cup 100% pure maple syrup (grade A or B)
10 Tablespoons (½ cup + 2 Tbs.) coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) (anywhere between ½ -1 cup works)
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (use certified gluten-free rolled oats if you are gluten-free)
1 cup unsulphured raisins or chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
If you need to make oat flour, place 1 ¾ cups rolled oats in a food processor and process until powdery.
Place oat flour, baking soda, salt cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
Place walnuts in a food processor and blend into a fine meal. Add oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar and pumpkin and process until mixture has the consistency of natural nut butter.
Stir walnut mixture into flour mixture. Fold in 2 cups rolled oats and the raisins.
Use a 1 ¾ -inch ice cream scooper to form dough into balls, and place on baking sheets. You can fit 12 on a sheet. Flatten cookies slightly with a damp hand. Bake 13-15 minutes or until cookies begin to brown and tops look dry.
Cool a few minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
SWEET POTATO-CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: (adapted from "Feeding the Whole Family")
1 cup mashed baked sweet potatoes ¼ cup softened cream cheese or soft tofu (2 ounces) 1 Tablespoon melted unsalted butter 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or orange juice
Cream together all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or with a mixer until smooth and spreadable.
Nothing is as comforting to me as a one-pot, hearty meal in a bowl. I love substantial soups and stews, especially ones with beans or legumes. I very often make soups on the weekend for lunch or for a Meatless Monday dinner. They also make a fantastic school lunch for the kids the next day. This black bean and pumpkin soup is P-E-R-F-E-C-T for a chilly fall day, especially on Halloween if you want to send everyone off with a filling, warm meal. This is almost like a chili because of the beans and the small amount of cumin and oregano, but not quite as thick. My favorite ingredient in here is the pureed pumpkin which gives the soup a little body. So much nutrition in one bowl!
This soup is a really easy one if you use canned pumpkin and canned beans. I’m so glad more manufacturers are responding to our desire for BPA-free products. There are more and more companies who are using cans without BPA. That is particularly relevant to this recipe because I know you can find organic pumpkin puree in BPA-free packaging by a company called Farmer’s Market or by Pacific Foods and organic black beans in BPA-free cans by Eden organic. A gentleman behind the customer service desk at Trader Joe’s told me they don’t use BPA in their cans, except canned tomatoes. I haven’t verified this yet with the company, but I am excited if that’s the case!
Also exciting is the fact that for the first time in a loooong time, I have Mr. Picky’s Halloween costume ready to go. This never happens in our house quite this early, as in a week before Halloween. Poor kid one year made a Batman costume the night before out of grey baseball pants and an cape from an old zombie costume of his sister’s. This year he is going as a punk rocker complete with wig and (temporary) nose ring. All of his costumes must involve eyeliner or face paint and this year will be no exception. My girls are not trick-or-treating this year. I think the novelty has worn off. That and my husband said there will be no teenage children of his trick-or-treating without a costume. I agree — way lame.
Ideally the girls will stay safe at home with a few friends and a pot of black bean and pumpkin soup on the stove and enough in their bellies that they only feel the need to eat a couple pieces of candy and not a basketful. Believe me, I am not the party pooper you might think I am. I know full well that on Halloween night, Mr. Picky will take all of his candy and hoard it behind the extra towels underneath his bathroom sink. I leave them there without letting on that I know his little secret. Until Valentine’s Day when I need to make room for the fresh loot.
4 ½ cups cooked black beans or 3 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed (click here for how to cook beans from scratch)
½ cup cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1 ¾ cups pumpkin puree or 1 15-ounce can (not pumpkin pie filling) (click here for how to make pumpkin puree from scratch)
2-3 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add the carrots, celery, cabbage, cumin, oregano and cayenne* and toss to coat with the oil, onions and garlic. Sauté for a couple minutes or until the vegetables no longer look raw.
Add the beans, cilantro, pumpkin puree, salt and pepper and stock. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered until the vegetables are tender, about 18-20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
I have made this soup several different ways. If you want a little more heat, you can sauté a diced jalapeno pepper (do this in Step 1) and/or add a teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper (add this with the other spices.) If you want a little smokiness without the heat, add a teaspoon of smoked paprika with the other spices. You can also puree part of the soup for a thicker consistency. Lots of options!
I always thought the strategy stopped once I served Thanksgiving dinner, but I actually think it’s just as challenging figuring out how to work efficiently with all the leftovers. I really detest throwing away food, so I try to give away care packages to my guests before they leave on Thanksgiving lest I end up with more stuffing than we can consume in two days. But instead of searching the internet for creative ways to use up our turkey and vegetables, my 14-year-old daughter had the answer all along — invite a bunch of teenagers over for dinner. Brilliant! Ten of her friends came over the day after Thanksgiving for a “pot luck.” Each kid was supposed to bring a dish for everyone to share, but I think only one boy brought a tupperware of mashed potatoes and gravy. Fine by me! I don’t think there was a shred of turkey left in the fridge.
The only thing the kids didn’t consume were a few raw egg whites and some pumpkin puree leftover from roasting pumpkin for a couple pies. The egg whites could easily find their way into a frittata, but I wanted to do something different with the pumpkin. I love making oatmeal on Monday mornings. It’s easy and starts the week off on a healthful note. After the oats were finished, I stirred in the pumpkin puree along with the typical spices that I would use in a pie — cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Everyone added his or her own twist to this new oatmeal. My husband added granola; Mr. Picky sprinkled on cinnamon-sugar; the girls ate theirs with pomegranates and walnuts. But I think mine was the best of all — fresh diced pear, chopped pecans and this crazy delicious new maple syrup my husband discovered called Noble. It was heaven — warm and comforting and nourishing at the same time.
I was really winging it with the measurements for pumpkin and the spices, so you can too. I had a heaping 1/2 cup of puree, but because pumpkin doesn’t have a strong flavor, I think you can add up to a cup and not feel like you’re eating a bowl of squash with some oats mixed in. As far as the spices go, cinnamon and ginger in particular are favorites of mine and they happen to be anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, so I was fairly liberal. But again, this is an easy “recipe” to adjust to suit your tastes. Do you dare me to go roast another pumpkin so I can eat this again? I just might….
1 cup steel cut oats (you can also make this with rolled oats -- just follow package directions for cooking)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
optional: additional drizzle of milk such as almond milk or raw milk
½ - 1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
toppings can include: fresh pear or pomegranate seeds, sautéed apples, granola, maple syrup, maple sugar, pecans, sliced almonds or walnuts, bananas, mini-chocolate chips
For overnight oats: Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add oats and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand overnight. The next morning, reheat over medium heat, stirring in some milk (I usually use about ¼ -1/3 cup) if desired for extra creaminess.
If making in the morning, cook oats in water with salt until tender, usually about 35 minutes. Add enough milk to achieve desired creaminess.
Add pumpkin puree and spices to oatmeal and heat through. Serve with optional toppings.
To make 6 servings, increase water to 6 cups and oats to 1 ½ cups.
There are very few recipes that debuted on my first Thanksgiving menu 16 years ago that are still going strong today. Roast turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes are staples year after year, as is a traditional pumpkin pie. Despite all my rantings about how destructive sugar is to your health, I honestly can’t imagine Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. I wouldn’t even care if no one liked it, I would still make two of them. I remember the first pumpkin pie I ever made when I was in high school. I followed the recipe on the can of Libby’s pumpkin puree and poured it into a store-bought pie crust. Heaven.
Since then I have adjusted the recipe to be much more wholesome, and dare I say, much more delicious. I traded in store-bought piecrust for homemade, canned pumpkin (bye-bye BPA) for freshly roasted (hello yummy rich pumpkin flavor), refined sugar for maple syrup (and much less of it), and canned evaporated milk for heavy cream. Sure, heavy cream is rich in saturated fat, but I would rather eat a couple of spoonfuls of a high quality organic cream than canned milk. Would you ever drink canned milk or feed it to your kids? I didn’t think so. I use organic raw cream when I can get it, or I buy a nonhomogenized, but pasteurized organic cream from Straus Family Creamery. I have made a dairy-free version of this pie using coconut milk and it’s just as delicious (it does not taste like coconut, either.) Of course there’s still lots of butter in the crust. Last year, I made one pie with a white flour-based crust and another with a whole wheat pastry flour-based crust. Only my sister-in-law and I liked the whole wheat one. As my mother-in-law says, “You two like anything that you know is good for you.” Partially true. This year I will go back to all white flour pie crusts and the wholesomeness comes to an end right there.
Speaking of which, I am quite conscientious about consuming very little sugar during the year, but come Thanksgiving I feel like I have earned a piece of pie (or two) and I don’t feel bad about enjoying it. The problem comes the next day when I’m looking for that sugar fix again at 4:00 in the afternoon. And the next day. And the day after that. Guess what? I’m not alone. Thanksgiving starts not only the beginning of the holiday season, but a time when lots of people pack on a few extra pounds from overindulging too often. I love celebrating just as much as the next person, but I definitely don’t love trying to lose weight (it’s not as easy as it used to be!) I look forward to Thanksgiving dinner and dessert, especially after I’ve worked so hard to make it special and delicious, but this year I’m going to be a little more mindful the next day. At least until Christmas.
1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose white flour or spelt flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup (1stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2-4 Tablespoons ice water
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream or coconut milk (not light)
1¾ cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree (1 15-ounce can)
3 large eggs
6 Tablespoons pure maple syrup or brown sugar
Make the crust: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter and pulse 10 times.
Turn the food processor on and slowly pour in 2 Tablespoons ice water. Stop the machine and carefully (watch the blade!) grab a small handful of dough and squeeze it in your hand. If it holds together well, you’re done. If it’s crumbly, add another tablespoon of ice water and blend. The goal is that when you squeeze the mixture in your hand that it forms a moist, but not sticky ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and shape into a disc. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, flour a rolling pin and roll dough into a 12-inch round. While you’re rolling out the pastry, you should always be able to move it easily around the work surface without sticking. Add additional dustings of flour as needed. Fit the circle into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp edges. Refrigerate if it feels too soft.
Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Line the crust with a piece of parchment (like the one the dough was wrapped in), and fill it with pie weights or dried beans (the ones in the photo I've had since college!). Bake until lightly golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove parchment and weights. Return crust to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes until light golden all over. Cool completely on a wire rack (this can take up to an hour so you may want to turn the oven off.)
Preheat the oven again to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the salt and spices (if you are using brown sugar instead of syrup, add the sugar now.)
In a large bowl or with a mixer, whisk together cream, pumpkin puree, eggs and maple syrup. Add spice mixture and combine thoroughly.
Pour mixture into the cooled crust and bake until filling is set (it will jiggle like gelatin, but it will be a little soft in the center), about 50-60 minutes. The filling will firm up as it cools. This can be made the day before. I like to keep it refrigerated.
Now that my daughters are teenagers (sigh), I encourage them to invite their girlfriends to have sleepovers at our house on the weekends. I don’t always get my wish, but I do like having them home so I can keep an eye on everyone and then I don’t worry so much. Not only that, but the girls’ friends give me more gossip than they do, and enquiring moms want to know! Last weekend, my husband and Mr. Picky were away on a guy’s trip and I had 6 girls keeping me company. I used to dread sleepovers because there would always be one early bird that would wake everyone up at 5:00 am and then you had a Miss Cranky Pants to deal with the rest of the day. Let me tell you, some sleep mechanism kicks in when the kids hit middle school and then you can’t wake them before noon if your life depended on it.
Last Sunday, I was able to get in a workout and shower before I heard the first signs of life at 10:30 am. Still foggy and misty out, I wanted to make a cozy breakfast for everyone. I had cooked some fresh pumpkin puree the day before with pumpkin pancakes in mind — my absolute favorite! Before I even got started, the 13-year-olds were mumbling something about not being hungry. I would not be discouraged. I noticed two sad-looking Golden Delicious apples on the counter that I knew no one would ever eat. I decided to peel and slice those and gently saute them in a little butter while I preheated the griddle and assembled the pancake batter.
This is just a twist on the classic buttermilk pancake recipe that is a weekly staple in our house. The pumpkin puree adds a beautiful copper color to the batter as well as a little Beta-carotene. And then all those fantastic warming spices add the flavor that says Fall! If you have pumpkin pie spice, I’m sure that would work fine here, too. Just like my standard pancake recipe, you can make this batter the night before. I have taught my girls how to cook their own pancakes, so very often I will leave the batter on the counter for them to cook with their friends at whatever time they saunter downstairs and I’m free to get my day going.
I normally just serve these pancakes with a little maple syrup or with this incredible apple cider syrup we picked up at a roadside farm in the Hamptons this summer. The girls like to add chopped pecans to the pancakes when they’re cooking on the griddle, but the sauteed apples were a special treat and ridiculously simple to make. When they were tender I drizzled on them the tiniest amount of syrup and a dash of cinnamon. Crazy good! I made a plate to photograph and then said to the girls, “Look how pretty this is.” Their eyes bugged out and someone said, “Yum! Like that actually looks good.” Actually?? Like, whatever.
½ cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Coconut oil for brushing the griddle
Sauteed apples as accompaniment, optional:
2-3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
a dash of cinnamon
Preheat a griddle to 400 degrees or medium heat. (On some stovetops, 350 or 375 degrees is fine.)
If you are making the sautéed apples, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the apples. Lower the heat slightly and gently sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon and toss to combine. Remove from heat.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.
In a blender or medium mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and melted butter until well blended.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Brush the griddle with coconut oil and spoon about ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle. Add chopped pecans or walnuts to the surface, if desired. When bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake and the edges turn slightly dry, flip it over and cook until done. Serve warm with sautéed apples or maple syrup.
To make the pancakes gluten-free, substitute 1 ½ cups of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix + 1 ¼ teaspoons of xanthan gum or substitute ¾ cup brown rice or GF oat flour and ¾ cup buckwheat flour.
**You can also substitute half yogurt and half regular milk for the buttermilk. Or, use 1 ½ cups milk, omit the baking soda, and use 2 teaspoons baking powder instead.