Posts Tagged pumpkin

Smoothie in a Bowl

Rita and I have been considering green smoothies as a way to boost our intake of fresh, raw green vegetables. Being a savvy shopper Rita was able to scoop up a smoothie blender for each of us at a super-great clearance – more about those items as we get comfortable with them.

Right now I am juggling a few (too many) activities. To compensate I have been eating a wider variety of greens in salads, greens cooked as a base for some warm winter soups, and I extended my beloved Pumpkin Porridge by adding the additional plant elements of applesauce, ginger, and whole fruit.

I like to prepare this the night before so that the chia is really soft but in a pinch I put it together and declare it edible in about 10 minutes. It gets my system going with a powerhouse of nutrition. This is really helping me to get over the fact that I recently discovered that my beloved coffee, as an almond milk latte, is one of my  ‘cross-reactive with gluten’  foods :-(

This could easily be a smoothie beverage with additional water to dilute the coconut milk. The whole fruit could be blended in if that is your preference. Right now I go for the easiest and fastest preparation – hence ‘Smoothie in a Bowl’.

Smoothie in a Bowl with Blueberries

Smoothie in a Bowl with Blueberries

Top with your locally available fresh fruit. We have had an amazing bounty of blackberries and blueberries at the local fresh food grocer. I also froze fresh local figs last summer and I started using these little gems as a special treat.

Smoothie with Local Figs of Summer

Smoothie with Local Figs of Summer

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend January 24-28, 2013
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

Smoothie in a Bowl
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
A plant-based blend of highly nutritious foods and spices
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 scoop (20 ml) chia seeds (whole)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (full fat, from a can)
  • Vanilla, a few drops
  • Sweetener*, your choice, to taste
  • Fresh fruit, at least ¼ cup or more
  1. Soften the chia seeds in the water – it makes them easier to work with this way.
  2. Add the pumpkin and the spices together - this prevents clumps of floating spices after you add the coconut milk.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  4. I use liquid stevia glycerite but taste buds are so different as to ‘sweet’ you should use what makes it taste good for you.
  5. Top with your locally available fresh fruit.
*There are non-nutritive sweeteners that are not exactly good for you but I still think the inflammatory property of sugar is the greater evil of alternative choices.

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Warm Pumpkin Porridge for a Chilly Morning

Pumpkin, coconut milk, and chia made up my early morning breakfast many times during the summer. Now that it is fall the cold version has been replaced by a warm, sometimes hot, version of the same ultra-nutritious combination. It is simple and quick to make up with just a few ingredients from the pantry. This is my ideal ‘hot breakfast’!

Warm Pumpkin Porridge for Breakfast

Warm Pumpkin Porridge for Breakfast

Ingredients for a small wake-up serving (a hobbit’s First Breakfast):
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (from a can)
1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can)
1-2 packets Truvia sweetener
1 heaping tablespoon ground chia seed (use the little scoop for 20 ml)
8 drops vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Put ingredients in a microwave-safe serving bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Heat the mixture in the microwave starting with 30 seconds. Stir and check the temperature. Do this until you are happy with how warm or hot it is. Enjoy with your choice of morning beverage.

Warning: can be addictive


This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend December 1-5, 2011
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.

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Pumpkin Supreme

There was a squash casserole that I prepared occasionally when my children were small. It called for banana squash which I haven’t seen in years. It was so rich and creamy that we all loved it.

I made a few substitutions here to use extra cans of pumpkin in the pantry and to reduce the fat content – the original recipe called for half a stick of butter and heavy cream. Using coconut oil instead of butter and full fat coconut milk instead of cream makes it quite a bit lighter than the original. The recipe was always gluten-free and it easily converted to dairy-free and vegan.

Pumpkin Supreme

Pumpkin Supreme

Once the onions are fully cooked and turning golden brown it goes together very quickly with no heating up the oven!

Onions Cooked to Perfection

Onions Cooked to Perfection

1-2 tablespoons butter, margarine, or coconut oil
1 large onion, diced small
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can of plain pumpkin w/o spices
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup cream or full-fat coconut milk

Melt the butter in a medium-size skillet. Cook the onion in the butter until it is turning golden brown. Sprinkle the onion with the salt as it cooks.

Stir in the pumpkin, sage, thyme, and pepper along with the cream. Serve hot.

Gluten-Free: Naturally
Low-Carb: Naturally
Dairy-Free, Vegan: Use coconut oil instead of butter and full fat canned coconut milk for cream.

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend February 9-13, 2012
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.

Gretchen and Rita

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Pork & Beans in Pumpkin Sauce

    Rita is a full-time student this semester and Mom is in the background supporting her efforts as best I can. It is most important these days to keep up the nutrition and avoid the gluten. Many of the new gluten-free products becoming available are still in the fast-food, empty-calorie, snack-food category that we try to avoid. And so we cook.

    This started out as a hearty chili recipe tailored to eliminate some of the elements that Rita is trying to avoid in addition to the gluten. One of those is all nightshade foods, especially tomatoes. The initial recipe caught my eye because the tomato in the recipe was replaced by pumpkin. We are both fans of all things pumpkin so we were very enthusiastic about the possibilities. The lean white pork also met with our approval although it can be substituted with a vegan option or eliminated entirely.

    I printed out a starter recipe and carefully noted every little change as I went along. The seasoning changes strayed so far from the original recipe that it had me quite anxious about the final result. Toward the end I emailed Rita what I had done so far and asked for her input on the choice of beans to be added. She chose navy beans but any favorite bean can be substituted.

    The result is something that I think is very tasty. Rita admitted to me that she liked it so well that she was having a bowl for breakfast as well as for dinner. So I am hoping that this is useful for all the nightshade-challenged individuals trying to stay healthy!

Pork & Beans in Pumpkin Sauce
1/2 pound navy beans, soaked overnight, and cooked until tender
1 pound lean white pork, bite-size diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
14 oz. water
1 15 oz. can pumpkin

1/3-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Fresh cilantro (optional)

    Put the beans on to soak a day ahead of time so they can be cooking while you prepare the sauce. Drain, rinse and add enough water to cover and cook the beans in a 2-quart saucepan. Do not add salt as this can cause the beans to be tough. Cook gently on the lowest heat necessary to keep the water bubbling. When they are tender remove the lid and leave on low heat. Reduce the liquid to retain the nutrients without excess liquid when you add the beans to the remainder of the recipe.

    Use a 4-quart, heavy bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven to prepare the sauce. Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the pork (or substitute) over medium high heat until it is lightly browned. Stir in the onion and celery. Cook and stir for a few minutes until tender and fragrant.

    Stir in the cumin, coriander, garlic powder, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, salt, savory, and marjoram. Also add the water and pumpkin. Bring the heat up slowly and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the pork is tender.

    When you taste the sauce it will seem very flat. This is where the cider vinegar comes in. It adds the sweetness and tang that you are looking for in a chili. Start with 1/3 cup and taste to see if you want a bit more. The difference is quite amazing. Add the beans. Simmer for another few minutes. Top with the fresh cilantro if you are using it.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

PS – There were no pictures. I was too anxious to remember while in process and it went directly into the freezer until I was able to get it to Rita.

    However, here is a picture of my breakfast this morning. Ricki Heller at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  is writing a new cookbook centered on gluten-free breakfast dishes for those battling Candida infections. This was SO yummy – flavor, texture, and nutrition all wrapped up in one bowl of hot cereal!

Blended Cereal with a Boost

Blended Cereal with a Boost

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Pumpkin Pudding Revisited and @TravelingRD

Last year I wrote about our family tradition of Pumpkin Pudding as a childhood staple when Rita, Jorge, and Teresa were growing up. My children did not like carrots and would not eat other yellow veggies so I created this pumpkin pudding for them to get their vitamin A. It was made from canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, unflavored gelatin, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It became quite popular with many family members.

For years my younger brother, Jon, received his very own batch of Pumpkin Pudding at Thanksgiving. The recipe was published in The vonRosenberg Family of  Texas Cookbook as I mentioned last year in my Pumpkin Pudding post.

Teresa, our dietician, has shared the family recipe for Pumpkin Pudding many times. About 15 years ago she prepared it for pre-school children as a way of introducing pumpkin as a new food. Several years ago it was published as part of a gluten-free article that she wrote. Even now it is on the Dairy MAX website recipe section as Jack-o-lantern Pudding. More recently it has appeared in her guest post at Robinsbite, Kids Food Memories–The Proof is in the Pudding

Teresa,Being ever mindful of her mission to promote good nutrition, especially in children, has substituted the cup of undiluted evaporated milk with low-fat milk; my taste buds prefer the richer mixture made with evaporated milk ;-)

Teresa’a  nutrition related blog is The Dairy Report. And you can follow her on Twitter @TravelingRD.

Even more recently I experimented with a new version inspired by Ricki’s various chia based puddings that she creates over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. This one happened during a clear-out-the-refrigerator frenzy in preparation for Thanksgiving and it was yummy!

Pumpkin Chia Pudding
4 tablespoons whole (or ground) chia seed
1 cup canned (or fresh) pumpkin puree (about 1/2 can)
1 cup coconut milk
Cinnamon to taste
Stevia to taste

Whisk or beat ingredients together until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until set. This is a great for breakfast or as a nourishing snack.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Responding to Accidental Gluten

Disclaimer: This is what happened and how I responded. Nothing that I did would have hurt me yet I don’t know if my first aid measures contributed anything at all to getting safely through. Perhaps I have avoided gluten for so long that my sensitivity level is reduced. But it was scary in a holding-your-breath kind of way and this is how it went down.

    I should have asked but I didn’t. Near the end of the shift there was cake on the break table with the initials of the baker scribbled on a piece of paper. I did not realize that this generous, recipe-sharing cook still made the gluten version for others. I thought that finally I would get to taste her old family favorite realized gluten-free. It was a pound cake and with a cup of coffee it was so wonderful that I not only had another piece I squirreled away a piece for later. Before returning to finish my shift I popped my head in her door to rave; and from the horrified expression on her face I instantly knew.

    I spent the next hour fretting over what I should do upon arriving home.

    Hopefully the fates were with me. Rita and I had learned a great deal in the previous weeks from Chef Alain Braux regarding the use of probiotics to heal a damaged gut. There were a couple of variations of fermented vegetables plus cultured coconut milk in the refrigerator. I had just started taking an extra probiotic dose in the evening as well as my usual morning one. And only the day before had sampled organic raw kambucha. I had weapons and a plan.

Friday 2010-12-17
    I arrived home about 4:30 pm and upon walking in the kitchen consumed a spoonful of organic fermented daikon radish.  Then I popped a mild laxative pill to encourage my often sluggish digestion to pass the gluten through as rapidly as possible.

    I cooked a full pound of frozen chopped spinach for dinner and ate as much of it as I could with a few rice crackers. Later on I finished it – that was a lot of spinach! About 30 minutes later I had a spoonful of the organic fermented sauerkraut. Then while cleaning up in the kitchen I prepared a generous portion of chia seed/pumpkin puree/almond milk pudding for breakfast and set it aside in the fridge. Just before going to bed I had that extra probiotic tablet plus an antihistamine.

    I woke up at about 4:00 am with my guts churning. I decided to sample about two ounces of the cultured coconut milk. It is thick, tummy soothing and tangy, sort of like buttermilk. And so far so good, no red swollen face reaction.

    Up again at 6:00 am and very uncertain as to how this would all play out. I had the chia pudding breakfast with a big mug of green tea and the morning probiotic plus the usual vitamins.

    My stomach was growling at 9:45 am as we departed for our fitness center workout. I decided on another shot of the cultured coconut milk just to keep me over until lunch.

    For lunch I used leftover chicken to make a big bowl of chicken salad with diced celery, romaine lettuce, and olive oil dressing with a spoonful of the fermented sauerkraut mixed in.

    A week later – post Christmas: with all of the above preventative measures plus very cautious eating choices I seem to have come through with no apparent residual effects. Again, nothing about this response was scientific – it was using what was on hand and hoping for the best.

    I am going into the New Year with renewed determination to avoid all gluten as one component for maintaining good health. Just when you think you have all the answers then new discoveries and interesting information appear on the internet and especially the blogosphere.

    Thanks to all of you who blog and those who comment and make suggestions as you participate and share in this incredible learning journey. Best wishes for a healthy and safe year ahead for all of our families, friends, and readers!

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Pumpkin Muffins – Finally!!

    Gluten-free pumpkin bread is a recipe that I have been working on ever since gluten awareness because it is such a family favorite. The recipe has wandered down many culinary alleys (some of them dark) with various flours, binders, sweeteners and never quite making it. Finally there is this recipe. It is receiving favorable comments from people accustomed to these experiments and some who have tasted them and just enjoyed them as pumpkin muffins without qualification.
    What has been really interesting is that the beginning versions that followed the original recipe exactly, except for flour, have been totally unsatisfactory. It was only after the versions using vegan binders did the texture start to become more satisfactory. This is something for future experimentation.
    My only disclaimer at this point is due to the fact that while the recipe has been in development it has only been baked in silicon cupcake forms. That allows for tasting fresh and warm, tasting the day after baking, and finally tasting after freezing and barely re-warming in the microwave plus having sample sizes ready-to-eat. So I have not tried loaf pans yet and do not know what baking-without-gluten issues may lay there – fair warning!

1.5 tbsp ground chia seed
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
½ cup + 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cups quinoa flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan
1/2 tsp fruit pectin
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp water (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare for 20-24 cupcake size muffins or perhaps 12 large muffins.

In a large bowl:
Combine the ground chia with the applesauce. Add the agave nectar and pumpkin puree and stir until combined. I have previously added some drops of stevia to make them sweeter but they are very well received without it. Set aside for about 30 minutes or so to allow the chia to absorb some moisture. Add coconut oil and vanilla just before combining with the dry ingredients as coconut oil has a tendency to congeal at room temperature.

In a medium bowl:
Sift the flours, xanthan, pectin, baking powder, baking soda, spices and sea salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined. If the batter is really stiff stir in one tablespoon of water at a time until the batter is a scoopable texture (dense and puffy).

Fill your prepared bake ware to the 2/3 level. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness with a tester or with a very thin knife.

Allow the muffins to cool in pan on a wire rack. Turn out after 10 minutes so they don’t get sweaty. After they have cooled wrap individual servings and store in an air-tight container on the counter for 3 days or keep in the freezer.

These have a very cake-like texture and I have also frosted them with a cashew cream frosting and served them as cupcakes.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Sweet Potato Biscuits

   The last of the sweet potatoes from the Gilmer, TX Sweet Potato Festival was calling me from the refrigerator even as I was cruising the net looking at recipes. I happened to pass by a recipe for sweet potato biscuits that was a bit spicy and served up with orange marmalade. I knew that my son-in-law would go for that. But that recipe said to just add mashed sweet potato to your regular biscuit recipe. And you know that gluten-free is not a regular recipe.
   So then I searched for gluten-free sweet potato biscuit recipe and found this one at Gluten A Go Go which I then adapted to my blend of flours and ingredients on hand (don’t we all?). What resulted was so good I immediately called Rita to tell her that I had only baked one test biscuit and that the other 11 were frozen and waiting for Christmas for her and David to arrive here in Texas!

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt (you might prefer less)
(pinch of red pepper – tiny, tiny pinch)
1 teaspoon evaporated cane juice
3/4 cup Earth Balance margarine and/or solid coconut oil
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
1/3 cup coconut milk (regular, not light)
2 teaspoon ground chia seed, dissolved in the coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and blend.
Add the shortening (I only had 1/4 cup Earth Balance; the remaining 1/2 cup was solid coconut oil) to the dry mixture and cut it in until the mixture looks like crumbs. Stir in the mashed sweet potato. Then slowly add the coconut milk/chia seed mixture and blend until you have a cohesive ball of dough.

Scoop balls of dough on to the baking sheet using a 1/4 cup measure. Pat them into biscuit shape. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: The brown sugar is for flavor and I didn’t feel like messing with the bag for just one tteaspoon. So I substituted a teaspoon of that liquid brown sugar flavoring; dark rum. There is no sugar and the alcohol and calories bake right out.

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Pumpkin Pudding

   My nutrition professor often emphasized that very small children should eat simple nourishing foods and that they do not have the capacity for concentrated sweets and high calorie fatty foods simply because their total daily calorie needs are so small. The concentrated foods displace the necessary foods that children need for optimal growth and health. When Rita was small and as her siblings joined us those were the tenants of meal planning that I followed for our family.
   We moved quite often when they were young due to the nature of employment and shelf stable foods became important. During this time I created a simple nourishing pudding recipe from canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, plain gelatin, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It became quite popular with many family members and it was included in the family recipe book that was published in 1993.
   Every year during this holiday season it has been a tradition to make a batch of pumpkin pudding for my younger brother. He has a family of his own now so I make a double batch that is enough for them to share. So in preparation for my sibling reunion this past weekend I made pudding for Jon. Here is the recipe in all its gluten-free glory.        

Pumpkin Pudding

2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon (1 packet) plain gelatin *

1 15-16 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar *
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup evaporated milk *

Fair warning: Gelatin is tricky so go slowly and follow these steps in the order written.

1. Put the water in the bottom of a 1-quart saucepan. Sprinkle the dry gelatin granules over the water and try to distribute so that there are no dry patches remaining. Give it 2-3 minutes to ‘soften’.
2. Turn the heat on low to medium-low and gently melt the mixture until it looks like clear glue. Stay with it here – gelatin plus too much heat rapidly deteriorates.
3. Stir the pumpkin puree into the gelatin mixing it thoroughly and keeping the heat low. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon and keep stirring. (Don’t forget the cinnamon – if you add it with the milk it will lump and not mix properly ;-) ).
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Gradually add the evaporated milk stirring to mix well.
5. Pour into a serving bowl. Chill until firm and cover after it sets up (it sweats and drips onto the pudding if you cover it first).

* Knox is the brand of gelatin and I much prefer Carnation evaporated milk (my personal taste). It tastes wonderful made with coconut milk as well (the full fat version, not lite) For the sugar you need to consider your audience. Small taste buds may not care yet for brown sugar whereas adults like the dark brown. The middle-of-the- road light brown sugar is a good choice when you are not sure. We have also made sugar-free on occasions with various substitutes.


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Betty Crocker Mixes and Pumpkin Cupcakes

    Clara and Jenna surprised me with a cupcake. It was a pumpkin cupcake made from one of the Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes and based on a recipe that they had found in the October issue of Real Simple magazine.

   I spend so much time baking from scratch that it had never crossed my mind to try a commercial mix. The cupcake was so good (you really would think it was a cupcake-from-the-past) that I decided to take a baking detour for the upcoming November birthday and create a gluten-free birthday cake using their recipe adaptations. The mix itself consists of white sugar and white starch carbohydrates and calls for a stick of butter and three eggs, something you definitely reserve for rare occasions at my age, however the memory of that cupcake keeps calling my name.

1 15-oz. box Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix (plus the butter, eggs, and vanilla called for in the package directions)
¼ to ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree

   Heat oven to 350 (325 convection). Spray your cake pans or line muffin tins with paper liners. Clara and Jenna used 16 silicone muffin cups on a baking sheet; no cooking spray needed.

    Prepare the cake mix as directed, but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute 1 ½ cups of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.

   Fill the pan/muffin cups with the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake/cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes.

    Freeze the cupcakes without the frosting. To enjoy, thaw cupcake and frost with cream cheese frosting.

   Clara and Jenna used Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting.

   Real Simple Magazine suggests making your own cream cheese frosting:
2 8-oz. bars cream cheese, at room temperature
2 c. confectioners’ sugar
   Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.


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