How to Make Pumpkin Puree (and a Pumpkin Recipe Round-up)

It’s pumpkin time, and I might have gotten a little carried away when grocery shopping. You see, pumpkins are readily available this time of year, but once they are out of season, they are gone until the next year. Unlike many other foods that we import from other countries or states, pumpkins are a truly seasonal food and so when they are available, I go a little pumpkin crazy!

My 10 pie pumpkins waiting to be roasted

My 10 pie pumpkins waiting to be roasted

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21-Day Sugar Detox Book Review

You may recall that way back in February I wrote a review of The 21-Day Sugar Detox (you can read it here). At the time, the program was only available as an online program with a set of downloadable PDF files. Oh, how things have changed!

DSC07405The online program is no longer available in its previous form, but its author, Diane Sanfilippo, has released a print version that is far more comprehensive, detailed, and beautiful.

I should let you know at this point that I work part-time for Diane as an independent contractor, and I received an early-release copy of her new book, The 21-Day Sugar Detox. Despite getting a free copy of the book, the opinions that follow are entirely my own and were not influenced by my professional relationship with her.

When I first heard that Diane was working on a print version of the 21DSD, I thought that many people would love to have a hard copy to carry around. While the PDFs were great, they were often difficult to access on mobile devices and cumbersome to “flip” through to find a specific page or recipe. Recently she added additional guides to the program including one for moms and kids (written by yours truly) and a yoga guide, which were great, but just added to the difficulty of accessing information since it wasn’t all in one place. A print version of the program would increase portability and greatly improve the ability of readers to access the information. Continue reading

Gobhi (Curried Cabbage)

greencabbageOne of the easiest vegetables to make Indian-style is gobhi (green cabbage). It cooks quickly and requires just a few ingredients to make it flavorful and delicious. Cabbage is also available for most of the year, though fall and winter are probably the best seasons for buying it at its peak flavor and its cheapest price. Take a trip to your local farmers’ market and get some fresh gobhi!

Though it seems like it might not offer much nutrition, green cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K, and it provides a good amount of fiber, folate, and manganese. Red cabbage packs a heavier nutritional punch because of its additional antioxidant content, but I find that it is too tough and has a strong flavor that it better suited to different preparations. I prefer green cabbage if I want to cook it Indian-style. Continue reading

Half Indian Pantry Staples: Dahi (Homemade Yogurt in a Crockpot)

My in-laws use yogurt regularly in their Indian cooking, and sometimes my mother-in-law makes her own. Several years ago, she showed me how she makes it, and she gave me some of hers to use as a starter. Her method is essentially to boil the milk (always whole milk) for a while, then cool a bit, add the starter (which I believe she purchases at the Indian grocery store), and then place in a glass/ceramic container in an unheated oven until it is cultured. I tried this, but I didn’t love the result, and I felt that it was too unpredictable: what temperature do I heat and cool to? What if my oven isn’t warm enough? What if the yogurt doesn’t set? And most importantly, what if I don’t like the way it tastes?

Homemade yogurt in a crockpot

Homemade yogurt in a crockpot

Truth be told, homemade yogurt often tastes richer and more flavorful than the store-bought variety. It can certainly be tangier depending on how long you let it culture, and it will probably not have the same texture as store-bought since you are not adding any gums or stabilizers (or draining the whey) to make it thicker. But it felt like a daunting process and at the time, B and I just didn’t consume enough yogurt to make it worthwhile.

Fast forward to the present when my kids eat yogurt on a regular basis, and I enjoy it from time to time as well. I saw a recipe that made yogurt in a crockpot and made it seem so simple that I thought I should give it a try. And you know what? It worked, and my kids liked my homemade yogurt better than the stuff I’d been buying at the store! Continue reading

Baigan (Eggplant) Chutney

Chutneys are a type of condiment and are a regular addition to many Indian meals (especially in South Indian cuisine). They are eaten in small amounts and serve to break up the flavors of the main dishes. Chutneys can be made of just about anything (fruit, vegetable, herb), and can be savory or sweet. I learned how to make this Baigan Chutney from the same auntie who taught me to make Stovetop Tandoori Chicken and Lemon Rice, and it is delicious!

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Indian Wedding: Part 2 (The Clothes and Jewelry)

B and I at a wedding in Australia; I'm wearing a sari.

B and I at a wedding in Australia; I’m wearing a silk sari.

Indian clothing and the accompanying jewelry are some of the best parts of attending an Indian wedding. Since I don’t go to many other Indian functions, going to an Indian wedding gives me the chance to wear beautiful, colorful, bejeweled clothes that I would never wear in my day-to-day life. In fact, the first few times I wore Indian clothes, I felt very self-conscious since I didn’t grow up wearing such sparkly, shiny, richly-textured outfits. I am also usually one of the few white people at these functions, and I felt a bit awkward wearing clothes that were not part of my cultural tradition. Luckily, the reaction I get most often from Indians is that of being impressed: some types of Indian clothes can be difficult to wear elegantly, and apparently I do it well. I’ll let you be the judge.

One of my favorite parts of going to an Indian wedding is seeing what everyone else is wearing. This is an Indian woman’s opportunity to go all out and wear her very best. The clothes are simply amazing and the variations of color, texture, and style are endless. I often see color combinations I adore, saris I envy, and jewelry I covet. Continue reading

Grain-free Granola

DSC06725I really like granola. I stopped eating boxed cereal a while ago, and for a while continued to buy granola since I really like the crunchy sweetness every once in a while. Granola seemed like a better alternative to the overly processed (and overpriced) cereals out there; plus, H loves it, and requests it regularly for breakfast. As I’ve learned more about nutrition, though, I’ve become disenchanted with the quality of granola in the grocery stores. Lots of grains, lots of sweeteners, lots of junk. So I started tinkering with my own granola recipe, trying to find something that both my daughter and I like that I feel good eating and feel good about serving to her. I found a super tasty recipe here, but it was ultimately too sweet. I even halved the sweeteners the first time I made it and it was like a dessert. I ate way too much of it that week… Continue reading

Mashed Cauliflower

H eating some mashed cauliflower

H eating some mashed cauliflower

I mentioned in my last post that my kids love mashed cauliflower. In fact, the reason I had a bit of raw cauliflower left over to make an Indian-spiced Cauliflower Frittata last week was because I bought a cauliflower that was too big to fit in my steamer appliance when I made it for them.

While I love cauliflower in many different preparations, the only way my kids will eat it consistently is if I mash it. They both get excited when I make it for dinner, and they will each eat the equivalent of half a cauliflower in one sitting, so if I want to eat any, I have to take my serving out first and let them eat the rest. No other vegetable except artichokes cause this much enthusiasm. In fact, when I was taking a few pictures for this post, they wanted to keep eating it. When I told A to stop eating it since I had enough pictures, she quickly scooped a few more bites in before I could take the bowl away. They finished it for dinner… Continue reading

Indian Wedding: Part 1 (Pre-wedding Festivities)

Being married to an Indian man, I have had the opportunity to go to several Indian weddings, which you might imagine are quite different from a typical American wedding. Not only are the ceremonies vastly different, but the pre-wedding activities last anywhere from a few days to a full week and are beautiful, and often fun, traditions that prepare the bride, the groom, and their famillies and friends for the upcoming wedding.

One of B’s (male) cousins got married last week and we spent most of that week participating in and/or observing the many wonderful pre-wedding festivities. The Sunday night before the wedding, the bride’s family hosted a Sangeet Ki Raat: a night of dancing, singing, and pre-wedding mingling of the two families that are about to be joined. I had never heard of this event before (and neither had B); it was much like a wedding reception except that instead of centering around the married couple, it was a way to highlight the bride’s family and friends and allow them to perform for the engaged couple and their guests. There were snacks. There was dinner. There were multiple performances of singing and dancing. There was dancing for everyone! It was a fun night that was less formal than the wedding and reception, and it allowed us to meet up with out of town family members and begin to get into the wedding mood.

The bride's brother and two friends dancing

The bride’s brother and two friends dancing at the Sangeet Ki Raat

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