Pick a Pack of 7 Pumpkin Recipes

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I’ve been doing a little housekeeping on the site lately and I couldn’t help spotting a trend: We’re WILD about pumpkin recipes. We absolutely adore this fall gourd (yes, it’s a fruit, too) in all kinds of dishes, from savory curries and soups to quick breads and cakes. (Hint: Our Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal with Toasted Pecans may be our all-time favorite!)

It’s no surprise, really. The pumpkin is a national treasure, one of the first things Colonists encountered when they arrived in North America. According to legend, an early Thanksgiving feast was even delayed because molasses wasn’t ready yet to make pumpkin pie.

Beyond Pumpkin: 6 more types of squash to try>

We’re big fans of using fresh pumpkins. For these recipes, use the little “sugar” or “pie” pumpkins you can find at farmers’ markets and even many supermarkets this time of year. This smaller variety has more tender flesh than the big ole gnarly pumpkins you’d use to carve a jack o’lantern. Stock up on them while you can because they have staying power–fresh pumpkins will last at room temperature for up to a month and in the fridge for up to three months.

And when you can’t get your hands on fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin puree is a great alternative. Just be sure to double-check the label and make sure it’s 100% pumpkin. And try it one of our pumpkin recipes above.


Get Your Whole Grains On!

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To say we love whole grains at is an understatement! Lia has touted their benefits–for your health, for your taste buds–for years and she has made converts of the whole staff. In fact, winning us over to whole grains may well be one of Lia’s early successes as a NOURISH Evangelist. Not only do we relish the range of of hearty flavors and textures offered by whole grains. In fact, we now prefer them to their refined cousins and our kitchens are stocked with a variety of whole grains for meals from breakfast to dinner and snacks in between.

But if you’re new to whole grains, figuring out what to do with them can be confusing. (What the heck is millet, anyway? Keen-WHAT?) If you’re not sure exactly what a whole grain is, start with Lia’s Gotta Get Your Grains primer. Then dive into our “Get a New Grain” series to discover a world of whole-grain options beyond whole-wheat bread and pasta:

And if you think whole grains take too long to cook, think again. Here are 5 whole grains you can have on the table in less than 20 minutes>

Christopher’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Christopher starts angling for a carrot cake for his October birthday sometime around the end of July. For years, he demanded my mom’s version, a classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting — and a shocking amount of oil and highly processed flour and sugar. But after a while, I couldn’t help myself … I started to tinker. This cupcake version with my honey cream cheese frosting — which is a good deal healthier by all standards — has become our new favorite. So tell any health-aphobes in your world that this has Christopher’s stamp of approval!

whole-wheat-carrot-cake-cupcakesDry Ingredients:

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Wet Ingredients:

2/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups grated carrot
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup shredded coconut

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting:

6 ounces neufchatel, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. With an electric beater, beat together sour cream, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in another large bowl. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, beating just until well combined. Stir in carrot, raisins and coconut.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat together neufchatel, powdered sugar, honey and orange zest until fluffy and smooth. Either spread onto the cupcakes with the back of a warm spoon, or transfer the frosting to a pastry bag and pipe onto cupcakes.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Are You Ready to Give Up Processed Foods?

October-Unprocessed-logoI bet I can guess one of your top goals: To eat more whole foods and fewer processed foods. I know this because when we asked our NOURISH Evolution community to take our State of the Kitchen survey, 72% of you said that’s what being nourished means to you. (We’ll reveal all our findings in a future post!)

If you agree, join the October Unprocessed 2013 campaign going on now at Eating Rules. You can also check out my “secret” must-have ingredient for healthy whole-grain baking.

Now in its fourth year, October Unprocessed was created by blogger Andrew Wilder to help people make the transition from processed foods to real food. “This is an exercise in awareness,” Andrew says. In other words, just by taking the pledge you start paying more attention to the food you eat. You decide what “unprocessed” means to you — though Andrew has some really helpful guidelines — and you can try it for a day, a week, the rest of the month or the rest of your life. And when you sign the pledge you can score some great coupons from October Unprocessed’s sponsor, Bob’s Red Mill.