Monday, October 28, 2013

Tedious Tasks and Healthy-ish Pumpkin Pudding

Every year, I go to the pumpkin patch, pick out pumpkins, roast them and make homemade pumpkin puree, divide it up and freeze it to use throughout the year. Every single year it is something I say I will never do again. It is beyond tedious and annoying. Why do I continue to do it, do you wonder? Well, it turns out, homemade pumpkin puree is like worlds better than the canned stuff. The canned stuff you can't eat on a spoon, because it quite frankly tastes like metal. So every year, I do this, and then I say it sucks ass and it's not worth it. Except the puree lasts the entire year, and for sure through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and is so versatile for cooking and baking, that I end up being so glad I stuck it out another year.

So as annoying as this stuff is to make, it is so delicious that you could quite literally eat it plain the way you would any roasted vegetable. As my little Heath did today while we did this "together".

Method for roasting and pureeing the pumpkin: You will need an oven (obviously) preheated to 350 degrees, a sharp knife, baking pans lined with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray and either a food processor or a hand blender/immersion blender. I highly recommend forking over $40 for one of these puppies if you spend any time at all cooking anything because it is a life changer. I love my food processor but making things like soups and purees can be super messy and annoying with it. The hand blender has only one part to clean up, and takes up little space in a cabinet.

Here's the arm workout and super annoying part! Using a large knife, lop off the top of the pumpkin around the stem, then cut it into fourths. Then cut the pumpkin up into large triangle pieces, and place them on the baking pans with the insides touching the foil. They can be on their sides so you can put more of them on the pan, it doesn't matter. Put them in the oven for about 45 minutes, then take them out and turn them onto another side and put them back in for another 15-20, or until they're really tender. Let them cool completely (about an hour) so you don't get burned!

Most bloggers will tell you that the skin of the pumpkin should easily be pulled off at this point. I'm calling their bluff and telling you the really tedious part is here, where you must scoop the pumpkin out of it's peel, and get pumpkin all over your kitchen and hands. Taste it though ... it's delicious, right? At this point you're likely doing what I do and saying you're not sure if it's worth the time and you'll probably never do this again. Anyways, scoop it out and put it in a big bowl.

After all the pumpkin in scooped out, take your hand blender and stick it in there to puree it. If you're using a food processor, you may have to add in some water to get it pureed evenly, and that may take away from a bit of the flavor. But it will still be OK... just even more tedious. When it's all finished it should be a nice lumpy looking puree. 

Now for the tedious part (wait... did I already go over the annoying parts of this process? It must be that the entire thing makes you want to never do this again): Scooping out pumpkin to save and freeze. I like to do one-cup portions because most recipes call for about that much. Look how messy and tedious this is. I am totally not doing this ever again. EVER.

Except I know by Thanksgiving I'll be glad I spent a few hours on this because I can just pull out my awesome pumpkin and whip up some delightfully autumn-inspired food. Which leads me to my recipe! Healthy pumpkin pudding, tried and tested by my now 33-month-old son Colton. This stuff looks a bit gross, so I'm surprised he eats it, but he does and I feel good about it. The addition of honey or sweetener of your choice kind of subtracts from the healthiness factor, but I can't give him something called pudding and then not sweeten it a little bit.

By the way, if you're wondering who my kids look like and what happened, don't feel bad. Now that I'm not pregnant anymore I am once again getting the "Whose kids are those?! They are so cute! Are they twins?". Even though one is grunting like a gorilla and the other is yelling in full sentences, I get this question a lot.


Healthy-ish Pumpkin Pudding

1/4 cup raw chia seeds (I bought these last time)
3/4 cup homemade pumpin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or coconut milk, or cows milk if you prefer)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-4 tablespoons raw honey or brown sugar/agave nectar if you don't have honey
cloves, nutmeg and ginger to taste
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut (optional)

Whisk the pumpkin puree, almond milk and flavorings in a medium sized bowl. Add the chia seeds and mix until it starts to thicken. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Enjoy for breakfast or as a healthy-ish snack! For a bit of a treat, whisk some heavy cream in a cold bowl and top the pudding with it!

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