Pumpkin Harvest Muffins

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Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Feeding Your Family This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared recipes, stories, and advice about food and eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Pumpkin Harvest Muffins

Pumpkin Harvest Muffins Recipe. An Autumn Treat.
An Autumn Treat

This year we grew pumpkins in our first year garden. It was my first time to grow pumpkins in Southern California where planting and harvesting schedules feel strange and perhaps even wrong. I had to suspend my sense of disbelief when I planted pumpkin seeds straight into the ground at the beginning of February. I could have even planted them in January right along with my other winter squash!

Backyard Pumpkin Vines
Pumpkin Vines Unfurling

My squash germinated quickly and grew beautifully. The pumpkin vines made our garden feel like a lush jungle. It was truly amazing. Then June Gloom hit. Back in Vancouver, where I spent many years (and wish to someday spend many more), June is traditionally a rainy month. Cool weather tends to accompany this summer rush of rain. Further down the coast in Los Angeles, we experience a similar weather pattern. However, instead of rain, we are hit with a daily morning fog that lifts at around noon each day. Unlike on the southern coast of British Columbia, the accompanying temperature is quite warm. This combination of damp air and heat seems to create a perfect breeding ground for disease and pests alike. My pumpkin vines were hit with a speedy, heavy case of powdery mildew. Every few days I was outside spraying the plants with some kitchen mix I put together. I tried milk and water (spray it on while it’s sunny), hydrogen peroxide and water, baking soda and water, and finally potassium bicarbonate and water with a splash of vegetable oil. The first three concoctions each worked to varying degrees, but it was not until I applied the potassium bicarbonate, stocked by wine making shops, that I reached the success that was necessary to give us a successful pumpkin harvest.

Pumpkin on the Vine
Young Pumpkin on the Backyard Vine

 

Homemade Solution for Preventing and Eliminating Powdery Mildew in the Garden

  • 2 Tbsp of Potassium Bicarbonate
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 tsp of vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients and spray on when there is no sun present on the plants. Morning is best. This ensures that the leaves aren’t wet in the evening…which might foster a whole OTHER set of problems. At the end of June I harvested the first pumpkin. June! Crazy! The majority of the pumpkins were harvested in July and there were a few stragglers into August. This kind of blew my mind. I had intended to can the pumpkin puree until I learned that this is not safe. So plans changed. I did cure a few outdoors in warm weather and then stored them in the storage closet beneath our house, but I could not convince myself that it was cool enough down there. Ultimately, I pureed all the pumpkins and threw them into the freezer. I scooped 31 oz in each yogurt tub because this is the same amount contained by a large can of pumpkin, give or take an ounce.

Pumpkin Harvest
First Pumpkin of the Harvest!

I have made one pumpkin pie, but we all love muffins so much around our house that most of the pumpkins have so far gone into baking pumpkin harvest muffins. Here is our recipe. Bon Appetit!

Baking Pumpkin Harvest Muffins
Baking Pumpkin Harvest Muffins Together…in July!

 

Pumpkin Harvest Muffins by Mama is Inspired

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • ½ cup flax meal
  • 2 cups white flour (unbleached)

(as long as you have 2 cups of white flour, you can switch around all the other quantities above and make substitutions for any or all of them such as kamut flour, spelt flour, etc. Flax and almond are added for nutrition and flavour but can be replaced with any other type of flour. You can also substitute in oat bran, wheat germ, ground walnuts, etc.).

  • 11/2 Tbsps baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ Tbsp ground ginger
  • ¼ Tbsp ground cloves

Wet Ingredients

  • 30-32 oz of pumpkin puree (approximately 1 large can or 1 medium sugar pumpkin)

(If you don’t have that much puree on hand, you can half that and substitute in 4 mashed bananas)

  • ½ cup raw sugar
  • 1 ½ cups molasses

(you can leave out the raw sugar and use only the 1 ½ cups of molasses. You can substitute even more of the molasses with pineapple juice and throw in pineapple chunks)

  • 3 ¼ cups water
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil, such as sunflower oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups raisins (optional)
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips (optional. I scoop all of my son’s mix into mini muffin tins and then I add chocolate chips in for the regular sized muffins that my husband and I will eat)

Directions Makes 24 mini muffins plus 24 regular size muffins Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together. If you are making muffins from fresh pumpkin, bake the pumpkin first and then scoop flesh into food processor and puree. Fold dry ingredients into wet. Scoop mix into oiled muffin tins. Bake for 30-50 minutes. To test, place clean, dry knife into centre of muffin. The knife should be clean when removed. Bake time depends on whether your oven is electric or gas and the heat circulation in your individual oven. Please subscribe to Mama is Inspired. Follow on facebook and Pinterest.

Pumpkin and Pollinating Bee
Grateful for Bees Pollinating our Backyard Pumpkins

 

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Nut Free Desserts for the Holidays — Becky at Crafty Garden Mama will be talking about navigating the holidays with peanut allergies in the family.
  • Making Peace with My Picky Eater — Once upon a time, there was a boy who would try anything. And then he turned 3. Thus began the dinner chronicles at Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s house.
  • Foodie Morphed by Motherhood — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis reflects on the changes of her family’s food culture since becoming a mother, and shares a snapshot of their current food rhythm.
  • Introducing First Foods — Wondering what your little one should take a bite of first? That Mama Gretchen explains baby-led weaning/baby self-feeding and answers a number of questions that may come to mind!
  • Feeding Your Family — Coconut Oil!!! — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama is a coconut oil devotee. In this post, she shares her favorite ways to include coconut oil in her family’s diet as well as why she feels it is important to do so.
  • We Thank the Earth for its Food! — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle spends hours in the kitchen each day trying to make medicine in the form of food.
  • Focusing on Healthy, Gluten-Free Foods for My Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what her family is doing to eat healthily along with her recipe for gluten-free peanut butter oat bran muffins.
  • Intolerancesustainablemum laments the misunderstanding surrounding food intolerances.
  • Don’t Let Food Sensitivities Ruin Your Holidays! — Rachel, the Titus 2 Homemaker, talks about ways to enjoy the holidays even if you wrestle with food sensitivities.
  • Losing grains, keeping empathy: Paleo and fat acceptance — Lauren at Hobo Mama vlogs about her family’s decision to cut grains to improve health — and hopes she can retain her position as a proponent of size acceptance even as she loses weight.
  • Easy Homemade Crockpot Mac & Cheese — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work, shakes off the blue-box blues with an easy crockpot mac-and-cheese recipe with no artificial dyes or excessive preservatives … just creamy, delicious, comfort-food goodness.
  • Extended Family Dinners — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about sharing family dinners with housemates and why it works for her.
  • Five Suggestions for Eating Healthy During the Holidays — No need to feel powerless when it comes to our highly sugared/processed food culture during the holidays &emdash; Andrea at It Takes Time offers tips to stay on track.
  • How to feed your family — no food required! — Jessica at JessicaCary.com is kind of obsessed with food. But, lately she’s realized there’s more to nourishment than what she cooks up in the kitchen.
  • Food as family medicine: living gluten-free and beyond — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama sticks to her gluten-free guns but sees room for improvement in her pursuit of a real-food family table.
  • Feeding My Family — Challenges and Growth — Susan at Together Walking shares what has been most challenging about feeding her two kids and how she has grown in the kitchen since becoming a mother.
  • How I Lost 75 Lbs — What I Eat & My Top 5 Tips — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how she and her family became healthy, happy and active.
  • The Weight of Motherhood — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution rethinks her relationship with food after struggling with post-pregnancy weight gain.
  • Geek Food: Pumpkin Pasties — While Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy and family might have food sensitivities, their geekery knows no limits. So, when faced with a desire to recreate Pumpkin Pasties from Harry Potter, they do not shy away!
  • Pumpkin Harvest Muffins — This summer Mama is Inspired and family grew pumpkins, and this autumn they are baking scrumptious, healthy muffins out of those pumpkins.
  • Reintroducing Meat to the Vegetarian Tummy — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares some of the considerations she explored before transitioning from a vegetarian diet to reintroducing meat as a protein source and a few tips on making it an easy one.
  • Thanksgiving Meal, Thankful? — Jorje of Momma Jorje has never felt terribly thankful for Thanksgiving itself. Perhaps that could change if she’s a little more invested?
  • 5 Ways to Use Healing Bone Broth — It’s that time of year again, when unpleasant little bugs make their way into our homes. For Megan of The Boho Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, homemade stock or bone broth is a natural remedy.

Crackers are Easy

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Crackers are Easy

 

Recipe for Rosemary Wheat Flax Crackers by Mama is Inspired.
Rosemary Wheat Flax Crackers

 

I have long loved to bake and play around with recipes. Lately, however, I have become more preoccupied with this. Not long ago I decided to eliminate all store bought snacks and treats from our cupboard and instead bake it all from scratch. Since I find it far more satisfying to create and continually tweak my own recipes than to bake from someone else’s, I also proposed to myself to work only from recipes that I am in the process of creating or have made up in the past.

So far, since taking on this challenge, I have been keeping our shelves filled with kale chips, muffins, cookies, and crackers. Soon I would like to add pretzels into the mix. Until about two months ago, I had never attempted crackers.  Home made crackers intimidated me. I imagined that something so thin and so perfectly crisp had to lie far beyond my abilities. The thought of making crackers scared me so much because I sensed that I could only fail.

 

Make Believe Mixing
Make Believe Mixing

 

I rarely eat potato or corn chips. Even if they are sitting right in front of me I will often pass them over. However, I have another weakness. I believe that I enjoy crackers in the same way that most people love chips. Just as many people can eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting, I eat a lot of crackers. When I decided to stop purchasing snacks I had no choice but to face my fear of  making something that could turn out to be inedible.

Not only do I like to make up my own recipes but I also want to know that if I sit down to a plate of food and then proceed to fill it again and again, that afterward I will not feel sad or guilty about having eaten a load of junk. If I am going to overeat, I at least want to make it count for something! More importantly to me, my son is young and developing and I want to ensure that everything he puts into his mouth contains the sort of nutrition that will help his body do its important work. My son is only at the beginning of building a body and is laying down the forms and structures that will serve him for a lifetime. I want his foundation to be strong. Therefore, when I look to alter a recipe, I search for ways to boost the whole-food content, add in some more protein and perhaps some ‘super foods’, and then decrease sugars and fat. At the same time I am not at all interested in losing taste and texture. When unsuspecting eaters (in order to be unsuspecting, they have to have met me only recently) find out that that what they ate was healthy I want them to exclaim that they can’t believe it, that “it doesn’t taste healthy!” Personally, I love the taste of healthy but I know that many people associate “healthy” with bland flavors and unfavorably dry textures. No baker wants to pull something out of the oven that can be described like this.

I did a search online and came up with a very basic cracker recipe that I thought I could work with. I looked it over and moved some ingredients around. First I created a cracker that my family loved the taste of, but that was still not as nutritious as what I would like to have on hand daily. I think this cracker is a great success, and I was thrilled at Easter when my step-brother declared that if I drew his name at Christmas all he wanted was a very large box of these crackers. It was a wonderful day spent with my family, and it was my son’s first Easter hunt, so I can’t say this comment made my day, but it certainly went a long way in making a special day even nicer for me. Not long after Easter I developed a second cracker recipe. This cracker is even more delicious than the first crackers. Better yet, I deem them healthy enough to be given a regular place in our pantry.

At our family get-together, I informed my step-brother that these crackers are simple to make. I don’t think he or his wife believed me. Crackers are easy. Truly, my cracker recipes are the easiest thing I have ever baked. (You don’t even have to grease the pan!)

 

Rolling out crackers together. Recipe for Whole Wheat Almond Flax Crackers by Mama is Inspired.
Rolling Out Crackers Together

 

Being so simple, crackers are also an ideal baking project to share with a toddler. My two-year-old son helps me add in the ingredients and stir the dry mix. A slightly older child could certainly mix it all up by her or himself. I flour a cutting board each for my son and myself. I also continue to throw extra flour onto my son’s rolling surface as we go along as this pleases him very much. I work away at rolling my ball of dough with an old, corked, water-filled wine bottle (like everything else of importance, my real rolling pin is in storage in another city) while my son stands on a stool beside me, flattening his own lump of cracker dough with an old, cylinder-shaped, herbal tea can. My little boy is thrilled to make crackers and it is a fantastic way to spend the last of our evening together before he goes to bed.

 

Rosemary Wheat Flax Crackers by Mama is Inspired

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup flax meal
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ tsp dried, crushed rosemary

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • sea salt for sprinkling

 

Whole Wheat, Almond and Flax Crackers by Mama is Inspired

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (you can use whole wheat flour for the whole amount, if you don’t have any pastry flour on hand)
  • ¼ cup flax meal
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • 1 ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dried, crushed rosemary
  • ½ tsp dried thyme

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Both recipes use the same directions. They are as follows:

Directions

First add and stir dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and then stir in the oil and water. Form a ball of dough with your hands. You might require a little extra water to keep the ball together, but do not add any more water than is required. You want the ball only to be wet enough that pieces of dough are not falling off the ball. If you do add a bit too much water, however, I wouldn’t be too concerned. This recipe is quite forgiving.

I separate the dough into five smaller balls. Each smaller ball will become a cookie sheet full of crackers. If you don’t use all the dough at once (I never do), you can store the unused dough in a closed container in the fridge for several days.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. You will need flour on your rolling pin, as well. Add more flour to your rolling pin if the dough begins to stick to the rolling pin. Roll the dough quite thin. 1/8 inches is as thick as it should be. I roll it out to the point just before holes begin to develop. If you roll the dough too thin, you can collect all of it or just a portion and re-roll.

I suggest that when you are close to rolling out the dough as thin as you intend, that you no longer roll the edges but instead focus the rest of your energy on the center. This will keep the edges from being thinner than the rest and will allow the dough to bake very evenly. This is especially helpful if you have an oven that heats unevenly. Again, though, don’t worry too much about this step. Your crackers will still be great even if they are unevenly cooked.

 

Rolled out cracker dough by Mama is Inspired.
Rolled Out Cracker Dough

 

Transfer to a cookie sheet that is NOT greased. Use a paring knife to cut a grid into the dough. The lines are where the crackers will break apart after baking. Prick each square once or twice with a fork. Sprinkle sea salt on top. The extra salt really helps bring out the flavor.

 

Crackers ready for the oven. Mama is Inspired.
Crackers are Ready for the Oven

 

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-25 minutes or until golden and dry. The baking time difference depends on thickness of the crackers and on individual ovens.

Cool on the cookie sheets and then break apart the crackers. Store in a closed container.

Bon Appetit!

 

Rosemary Wheat Flax Crackers with Pesto and Red Pepper Dip. Recipe for Rosemary Wheat Flax Crackers by Mama is Inspired.
Recipe for Rosemary Wheat Flax Crackers.
Served with Kale Pesto and Red Pepper Pomegranate Dip

 

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