Tag Archives: clean food

food for the hospital

Last week I put my google skills to work and found the “in room dining” menu for the hospital where I will be delivering the Martian. I try really hard not to rant on my blog, but I was flabbergasted. For example, one of the suggestions on the menu for a good choice when moving from a liquid diet to a solid diet is a Starbucks Frappuccino. I don’t know what to say. People are licensed by the government and paid to come up with these nutritional recommendations for the sick and recovering?

Rant over, but needless to say I decided to pack a decent amount of my own food. I clearly haven’t done this before so I don’t really know if what I’m planning is going to be what I want or not.

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During Labor

As long as I don’t request or require interventions, I am able to eat and drink to satisfy hunger and thirst during labor. My thought is that I’m probably not going to want actual food, but I’m going to need energy. I tried to pick foods that will be really easy to eat and provide quick hits of energy without leading to sugar crashes. I wish sugar didn’t impact me quite as much as it does, but I kept that in mind when picking my carbs. Last thing I want during labor is the crash that I feel after eating something like a cookie or a cupcake.

I have baby food pouches that are full of starchy veggies likes sweet potatoes and pumpkins, some fruit leather snacks, a fruit smoothie, and bone broth (currently frozen, I have a note to myself to take it out of the freezer as soon as early labor starts). I tried to make jello with kombucha using a very simple recipe, but the texture is super weird. If I don’t go into labor today and get to the store, I’ll try again to make some sort of gummy snacks, maybe using this recipe.

IMG_8879-1_edited-1Post Labor

There are a few decent meals on the menu to choose from post-birth so I’m not bringing actual prepared food. Worst case, Chipotle is 2 minutes away and Greg can go on a take out run. I have heard though that I will likely get hungry in middle of the night when the kitchen is closed, and depending on how long my labor is Greg might need some actual food, so I’m bringing along the following snacks. (I talked about almost all of these in my post on stocking the pantry.)

I have Primal Pacs (jerky, nuts, and dried mango), Chomps meat sticks, and two protein bars (Rx Bar and Eco cricket bar). And a few treats as well – I figure if I have some decent treats I’ll pick those over the desserts on the menu. I am birthing a child after all, a treat will be in order. I have a dark chocolate bar and then sunbutter cups in milk chocolate (for Greg) and dark chocolate (for me).

If you’ve done this before, any suggestions for me? 

pantry prep for post-baby eats

I’ve previously shared what I prepped for the freezer for post-baby meals in these posts here and here. Since then I have added several jars of bone broth and a few packages of Applegate sausages. Last thing to add is frozen veggies. Today I’m following up the freezer posts with how I stocked my pantry. It’s usually pretty well stocked, but I went a little overboard to make sure we can live through the first few weeks of baby. Or the apocalypse. You decide.

These are the staples I use all the time to throw together meals when it feels like there is nothing in the house to eat. This post is on the long side, but I’ve had several people ask me what I stock in my pantry that is considered ‘real food’, so I’m going for it. If you have zero interest in my dry goods, definitely stop reading now and save yourself the time.

IMG_6974_edited-1Our pantry is six shelves tall, plus the floor, and in our our hallway outside of the kitchen. Gotta love houses built in the early 1900s. There is also very limited light in the hallway so please excuse the grainy photos.

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Top Shelf: Oils and vinegars. And the dog’s dry food.

  • I always have EVOO along with light tasting olive oil that I use for homemade mayo.
  • My vinegar collection currently includes apple cider (local to Seattle), balsamic, red wine, white wine (three bottles for some reason), and coconut.
  • If you’re curious, this is the dog’s dry food. He’s been eating it for two plus years and we’re happy with it. He’s dairy-free by necessity and grain-free (with the exclusion of a non grain-free treat on rare occasion) by my choice. One 50 lb. bag lasts us about four months.

IMG_8842_edited-1Second Shelf: Sauces. And the dog’s wet food.

  • We are big hot sauce fans and loyal to Horsetooth Hot Sauce in Colorado. I haven’t found it locally so I order it in bulk to save on shipping. We love all of the varieties which means we have half a shelf in a six shelf pantry dedicated to hot sauce.
  • I also have coconut aminos* on this shelf. Soy makes my eyes puffy and coconut aminos taste very, very similar to soy sauce. Much to Greg’s embarrassment, I bring my bottle when we go out for sushi. Oh sushi, you are so close I can taste you.
  • The dog eats a variety of Merrick wet foods that I purchase through Amazon’s subscribe and save. Because he’s our baby (for the next few weeks at least), we rotate through four or so flavors to ensure he doesn’t get “bored”. Should I be admitting this kind of thing to the internet? He eats half a can per day.

IMG_8844_edited-1Third Shelf. Coconut and tomato products.

  • I’ve gone through many coconut milk brands and lately I’m pretty loyal to Natural Value as they are BPA-free, organic, and arrive on my doorstep with the click of a button. I think I bought the non-organic one last time as they don’t always have it available on Amazon.
  • I also have a jar of coconut cream that I’ve yet to use and some tetrapaks of coconut milk. I find these hard to use unless I’m making a Thai soup because they are large and go bad before I use it all. I should probably check the date on these, they’ve been in here for a while. How’s the for a glowing recommendation?
  • Tomato products are one of the easiest ways to create a quick meal. I have several jars of Rao’s Marinara* and Arrabiata* sauces. Add a pound of ground meat and either spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles and dinner is done.
  • I’ve changed from canned tomato products to using the Pomi packs. Each one is roughly equivalent to two 14 oz cans (they are 26 ounces). I keep the strained tomatoes in stock for when I need tomato sauce and the chopped for when I need diced. I usually stock up on a few of each when they go on sale at Whole Foods.
  • Other random tomato products currently include sun dried (no idea why, not something I ever use) and paste (love the tubes for when I just need a tablespoon or two, then I throw in the freezer).

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Fourth Shelf. Fish and a few random things I like to keep in stock.

  • Homemade mayo + canned (quality) fish makes the easiest quick meal. Not to mention all the good nutrients that come with fish. I keep Wild Planet tuna* and Loki Fish Company salmon (local to Seattle, but shipped anywhere) stocked. For the salmon, I buy the 7.5 oz pink can (a full steak of salmon with skin, bones, and sea salt).
  • Sardines are ridiculously good for you and I tolerate them on top of salads with lots of dressing. I’ve picked up a few brands at Whole Foods, but mostly I stick with Wild Planet in olive oil*.
  • Great Lakes Gelatin* for making gummy snacks and other gelatin needs. The red or orange canisters will gel, the green will not.
  • Lemon juice for making mayo. I try to use fresh lemons for other cooking needs, but it’s always nice to have a back-up.
  • Trader Joe’s salsa verde. TJs hasn’t been in my regular shopping rotation in a really long time (though after seeing Holly’s latest Whole30 haul, I’m reconsidering this decision), but I still stop in to stock up on their salsa verde.

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Fifth Shelf. Snacks.

  • This is the most rotating shelf as I like to try new items I hear about on podcasts and blogs. Right now it’s well stocked with protein bars and jerky as I’m expecting to snack a lot while getting the hang of how much I need to eat to successfully breastfeed Martian.
  • Rx Bars in Apple Cinnamon and Coffee Cacao. These are awesome protein bars and feel like you ate a full meal. I don’t advocate eating protein bas when you can eat real food, but when you need something for on the go (or the fifth meal of the day), they totally work and are super clean.
  • EXO cricket protein bars* in a variety of flavors. Funny story: My friend Amanda put together a nursing supply box for a shower present and asked Greg about my favorite protein bars. I’m sure she wasn’t expecting to hear cricket protein, but she is a good friend and got them for me anyway. I like to embrace being the weird eater. I’m particularly excited to try the peanut butter and jelly ones.
  • Chomps grass fed beef sticks (the original). These are the perfect snack when you need some quick protein but not a full meal. I might by them by the 250 count case, which would be the big white box with easy access. Surprisingly, we’re actually bigger fans of the original flavor than the jalapeño.
  • Primal Pacs for more on the go meal options. I’ve been eating these for three or four years, the first paleo snacks I found. And they are locally made in Seattle, which is a bonus. I buy the small and they are particularly good for traveling. I keep them in my bag and in the car for emergencies. Greg even keeps a bag or two in his backpack for when he’s on the road and can’t get a meal.
  • Lemon Larabars*, which really are a treat versus a protein bar. I don’t typically love Larabars (they are super sweet) but the lemon flavor has a nice tang.
  • Seasnax* are ‘strangely addictive’ as they advertise. Full disclosure, you either love these or hate these. I have yet to meet someone who thinks they are just all right. Usually I have quite a few more but with all my protein bars and jerky I’m low on storage space so haven’t ordered any in a while. I prefer the original over the onion and wasabi flavors. These are also vegan.
  • Yawp bars are like granola bars but grain-free. I have a sack of each flavor (two are hidden in the picture). They are delicious with coffee and are more of a snack than a meal replacement. I enjoy all three flavors, but the Cafe Mocha ones make me really thirsty. Like the Seasnax, these are also vegan.
  • Other snacks very, such as chocolate, dried fruit, nut butters, etc. Lately I’ve been obsessed with dried mango but it never lasts very long on the shelf.

IMG_8847_edited-1Sixth Shelf. Baking goods.

  • This shelf has all sorts of flours, sweeteners, and other baking goods. None of it gets used very often as I don’t enjoy baking nor do I have much of a sweet tooth.

IMG_8848_edited-1 Floor. Extras and the dog’s bulk dry food.

  • Extra jars of coconut oil, a large jug of apple cider vinegar (I use it to refill the smaller bottle), and anything else that I might have an extra of at the time.
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Recent Thrive Market purchase

*I linked to products where I could and tried to use the link to the place I most often purchase the item. The one exception is everything with an asterisk. I recently found Thrive Market (save 15% using this link) and did a large purchase through them when restocking my pantry. This is basically an online Costco for real food. Yes. I can’t directly link to the products because you need to be a member to view them. I was impressed with their prices – they beat Amazon on everything I purchased that was available on both that day (it’s hard to say that is always the case since Amazon’s prices fluctuate so much). There is an annual fee (I think around $50), but after my first purchase and continuing to look at more of what they have I will definitely become a member when my trial expires this month. You rarely find real food at a discount (without stalking social media for time sensitive codes), so this is pretty awesome.

Amazon links are affiliates. Thrive Market offers 15% off using my code; if you were to join as a paying member I get a small reward. 

stocking the freezer for baby | week two

I’ve moved on from nesting to “oh my gosh, what have we done, we better get out of the house now while we can”. Which means this weekend I did absolutely no cooking. We met friends for happy hour, went to the movies, ate every meal out, and enjoyed a brunch that our friends hosted for us. But last week I cooked up a storm and just never shared it, so here it is…

This plan of mine is working really well. The kitchen freezer is slowly filling with pre-cooked meals and ziplock bags full of meat and veggies ready for the crockpot. Thanks to a few things going on at work I ended up with a four day weekend the weekend before last, which really helped. I was able to break up cooking over several days to avoid too much time standing in the kitchen. I much prefer a 3/4 work to weekend ratio over the current 5/2.

stewI haven’t made a beef stew in a really long time and with the cold weather it sounded good. I doubled a recipe I found on Pinterest, putting half in the crockpot for dinners this week and the other half (uncooked) in the freezer for later. It was really easy and decent, but it was more like beef and carrot soup, the broth didn’t thicken much like a good stew. The leftovers are a little thicker, but not quite what I want in a stew. On a positive note, the veggies were cooked perfectly. We’ll happily eat the freezer meal, but not sure I’ll make this one again.

breakfast meatballsLast Monday morning I made a double batch of breakfast meatballs and patties for the freezer. They turned out to be delicious. So delicious that I ate a few more than planned with leftover kale and roasted potatoes. Because I am prone to setting our smoke alarm off, I followed the directions for baking in a mini muffin pan. I also used a regular muffin tin and created patties so that I could bake both pounds at the same time. I immediately cooled them on paper towels so that I could get the grease out of the tins before it hardened. Then I popped them into the freezer just laying on a cutting board. This allows each ball or patty to freeze individually and not as a big clump. After about an hour I transferred them to a freezer ziplock for storage. These will be perfect to add to soup (I love soup for breakfast in the winter), to an egg dish, or just stand alone.

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I roasted two chickens to make Lemon Chicken Kale Soup and have a little leftover shredded chicken for quick meals. I forgot a picture of the soup, but it was delicious. I made one batch to eat for dinners last week and have a second batch in the freezer ready to be thrown in the crockpot for a quick meal.

I also made, but did not take pictures of, double batches of 50/50 Burgers and Merguez Meatballs. I ate each for only one meal, so there is quite a bit in the freezer. At this point I’ve maxed out most of my freezer space with proteins. With the little room I have left I’m hoping to stock up on veggies (probably store-bought frozen and maybe some soups) and broth.

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I threw together a little lunch for Greg and I as we watched the Seahawks game two Sunday’s ago. It’s completely Whole30 compliant and completely game worthy. I didn’t use recipes and it took maybe 25 minutes. Perfect for the upcoming Super Bowl.

  • Applegate mini sausages (compliant ingredients!) that I found at Whole Foods with a dipping sauce of 2/3 dijon mustard + 1/3 homemade mayo
  • Deviled eggs; the filling is simply the yolks + dijon mustard + homemade mayo
  • Bacon wrapped dates; pit dates, cut bacon slices in 1/2 or 1/3 (depending on how long they are), wrap around date, place on baking sheet with “seam” side down, bake at 400* for 12 minutes

stocking the freezer for baby | week one

At the beginning of the new year, six weeks out from my due date, I made the final list of what needs to get done before baby. There are a million things we could be doing and in an effort to not be overwhelmed or overtax myself, I made a list of what’s important to us. I’m letting go of the rest.

Knowing how good food makes me feel, having a number of meals stored away in our freezer is really important to me. My approach is to incorporate a little bit each week while doing my normal prepping. I’m battling both my own exhaustion (standing up for hours in the kitchen is much harder with an extra 27 pounds) and limited freezer space. Our 2015 meat shares just arrived in the last month so both my indoor and garage freezers are packed. But I’m going to do what I can. IMG_6868_edited-1

First up was making a plan. Please excuse the horrible picture, my phone came down with a case of gray spots last week and we haven’t had a chance to switch me back to my old phone yet. I want to have around 50 servings of breakfast and lunch/dinner items in addition to soups (an easy way to freeze veggies) and then be well stocked on snacks and shelf stable food.

All the breakfast food I plan to store in single servings so we have some food that is very easy to grab out of the freezer and defrost immediately if needed. Also, sometimes it will be nice to not defrost something that is 6 – 8 servings since there’s only two of us. For the lunch and dinner foods, I planned a mix of precooked frozen meals and frozen crockpot meals (FCP). I don’t have a reason for doing a mix other than it sounded like a good idea. I also made a list of snacks and shelf stable food to make sure to order and get organized in the pantry before the baby comes. I hear breastfeeding women are ravenous and I want to be prepared with good, nutritious food for the baby and myself.

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So that’s the plan. I thought I’d share my weekly progress for anyone else looking for ideas to stock a freezer for a baby or maybe an upcoming surgery. Or even just for good crockpot and frozen meal ideas. Here’s what I completed this week. IMG_8787_edited-1Last year I made this sweet potato chili with beef and it was so good. Thankfully I didn’t just talk it up in my head over the last year. Greg doesn’t often comment on food, so I know when he asks not to have something again (raw kale salad) he truly doesn’t like it. If he comments on how good a dish is (this chili), it really is that good. I doubled the recipe but beware, it nearly overflowed in my crockpot. This made two servings for us for dinner (over sautéed kale), five lunch portions for me this week, and then 6-serving and 4-serving frozen dishes. Also known as a sh*t ton of chili. I’m excited to pull these out of the freezer next month. 

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This is an incredibly simple salsa verde chicken that I’ve made several times in the past. You can eat it plain, in lettuce wraps, on a salad – totally versatile. It works really well as a frozen crockpot ready meal. Toss all the raw ingredients in a ziplock and freeze. Defrost overnight in the fridge and toss in the crockpot (or straight into the crockpot with a little extra time). I made three bags in under ten minutes. I would have made more, but at two pounds of chicken each that’s already quite a few servings for us. We’ll eat one later this week and the other two will stay frozen for post-baby. IMG_8778_edited-1

I’ve linked several times to this chorizo breakfast casserole (I skip the cheese and usually add spinach but forgot to buy this week). It’s one of our favorites and I made a double batch to slice and wrap in foil for the freezer. We ate a few of them for breakfast this week but I was able to make myself eggs most mornings so I added eight or nine servings to the baby stash.

IMG_6861_edited-1Previously I mentioned that one of my goals is to stop wasting food. On Sunday morning, after Alfred and I had gone on a 3 mile walk and Greg had gone to yoga, I really just wanted someone to make me brunch. But I’m staying strong to my Whole30+ (day 12) and we had some leftover brisket and half a bag of frozen kale that needed to be used or tossed. In about ten minutes they were transformed into a tasty dish: sweet potato hash + brisket + kale + a runny egg. It was so good and nothing was wasted. Success.

the post-whole30 thirty

We were out of town for most of the past week so I didn’t plan a menu or do any cooking really. I did make dinner for the family on Wednesday night in Palm Springs. My dad was not thrilled with my choice of spaghetti squash with meat sauce but I’m happy to report that after actually trying it, he deemed it delicious and said he felt better than if he had eaten actual pasta. Win!

I really wish I could report that the last thirty days post-Whole30 have been full of super nutritious food and me feeling great. But if I’m being honest, they haven’t been. I’ve been doing a little reflecting on where things took a turn. Here’s (roughly) how the last four weeks went.

Week One
Still feeling the Whole30 tiger blood, I kept things really clean and off-roaded smartly. After a month of eating out twice I wanted to try a few of our go-to take-out dishes to see how I’d feel and get a break from the kitchen. I had pho and also tried my favorite lamb gyro salad from a local Greek place. I avoided all the holiday candy and baked goods around the office. Overall, I was feeling pretty good.

Week Two
I added a little caffeine back into my morning (why do we do things we know won’t end well?) and ended up messing up my sleep for a few days. Yes, I’m that sensitive to a cup of coffee in the morning. And yes, it sucks. What happened next is not pretty but I learned a valuable lesson. When I get tired, my ability to make good food choices is amazingly low. I think I always realized this, but watching it happen this week made me realize just how much a lack of sleep impacts me.

This poor sleep week happened to coincide with a rough week at work and conference room tables full of leftover Halloween candy. I couldn’t resist. In one meeting, my coworkers, used to me turning down candy and baked goods, were openly gawking (and probably silently cheering) as I took down mini candy after mini candy.

Week Three
I was full on in the bad food leading to bad sleep leading to more bad food choices cycle. It’s a real fun one. My candy binging led me to having “just one” eggnog latte. I’ll let you guess if I stuck to my just one or not. Hint: I did not. Lots of other poor choices were made and I started to feel gross. There’s not really any other word for it.

Week Four
I knew things needed to change but I was struggling to find motivation. Then I went to my 28 week appointment. And while I don’t put a lot of faith in scales as a good metric of health, they do tell a part of the story. This scale was brutally honest and my midwife was not happy. Week four happened to be Thanksgiving and a trip to Palm Springs to celebrate the holiday with my family. I tried to make good choices, but I didn’t succeed as often as I would have liked. There was pie for breakfast.

What Went Wrong
I hate that I was feeling so damn good a month ago and now I am on the verge of a cold and feel like I could and need to sleep for days. First and foremost, a lack of sleep combined with stress happened. Some of the stress was out of my control (work) and some was totally under my control (making a way too large to-do list for November that I put before health priorities). I also am at the end of last year’s meat, which means I only have a few cuts left and they are not my favorites. It became really easy to justify eating out or junk instead of making good food.

Going Forward
I’m not beating myself up about any of this. I’m not letting myself go to the “how can I be a good nutritional therapist if I can’t take my own advice” place. If anything, I’m using it as a lesson about myself and something to keep in mind with future clients. I am reflecting and making a plan to get back on track. I have no desire or plans to let myself slide down this slope through the rest of the holiday. It would be really easy to say that I’ll pick things back up in January, but that’s not fair to me, to the baby, or to those that get to spend ample time with me. Have I mentioned I’m much more pleasant when I’ve slept and don’t feel on the verge of a cold? It’s time to just do it. To start now. Here are four things I plan to do over the next few weeks to get myself back on track.

Prioritize food and exercise. As usual, I have a set of goals for December, but I am changing up how I think about them after going a little crazy in November. My goals will be getting 30 minutes of exercise every day (midwife’s orders) and committing to having real food prepped for every meal. After, and only after, those are met I will work on other things like my website and December Daily.

Don’t get fancy. I went to the store on Sunday to do my weekly shopping. When I planned my menu, I was careful to make it reasonable. Real food doesn’t have to be fancy or time consuming to be nourishing, filling, and delicious. I added a few recipes and then stocked up on easy foods like frozen veggies and sausages. And I bribed myself a little with prepared guac and salsa and totally out of season mango. While I try to eat seasonally, these favorites will keep me looking forward to lunch salads. Not everything is Whole30 compliant. I have no probably staying on a Whole30, I am ridiculously good at following rules. It’s the post-rules time that I struggle with and am trying to work through.

IMG_8503_edited-1Sleep. This means sticking to my bedtime routine that helps me wind down and staying off the caffeine-sauce. It also means being really, really selective about when I chose to eat sugar. I’m not trying to be a saint through the holidays, but sugar makes me more wired than caffeine so anything I decide to eat needs to be 100% worth it and 100% intentional.

Surround myself with real food talk. This might sound silly and hippie-dippie, but I’ve realized that the more engrossed I am in the real food world the easier it is for me to stay on track. All it takes is listening to podcasts while I drive and exercise and I’m back in my happy place.

So that’s my story and my plan. I hope to report at the end of December that I have a log full of exercise, a belly full of good food, and a few holiday treats that were totally worth it but didn’t sent me spiraling out of control.

spicy

Back in February I started a project that I left half finished until two weeks ago. I am not always great at judging how much should be on my plate. But, it’s finished and awesome and I’m even getting around to sharing it.

Back in 2010, when I first started to explore the real food movement, I discovered a love of spices. Once of the first blogs I started following was The Clothes Make the Girl and Melissa is well known for her use of spices. She has a few great posts on spices you can find here and here, which are great starting points if you are looking to include more spice in your life.

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When we moved into our house I picked a spice cupboard and tossed everything in there without a lot of thought. Finding a spice typically involved several minutes of searching and often dropping at least one or two others in the process.

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After a moment of serious frustrating, I went in search of a solution. Thanks to Amazon, eight months later I have an awesome spice drawer. Isn’t it pretty? The jars are 4.5 oz each with an opening wide enough for all my tablespoons.

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The labels are technically chalkboard, but I highly doubt that they are reusable. I haven’t actually tried so maybe I’d be pleasantly surprised.

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Along the side I’ve stored spices that don’t fit in the jars (bay leaves, red peppers) and spice mixes that I’m trying out. I like to try different blends but don’t plan to keep them on hand all the time; storing them in snack bags works better than using a jar.

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My spice refills and various salts and cooking fats are now much easier to find in the old cupboard. Unfortunately though I displaced our coffee and tea collection for this project and this new layout isn’t working all that well. Instead of dropping spices while cooking dinner I now drop tea boxes in the morning. Once I find a better spot for the coffee and tea this will become bottle storage. Seriously, a baby changes everything. Apparently even kitchen storage!

pumpkin puree in less than ten steps

I made my own pumpkin puree this weekend for the first time. It was so easy, I had to share.
pumpkinpuree1. Preheat the oven to 375. 2. Get your sugar pumpkin. Mine was gifted to me from a sweet co-worker’s garden. 3. Cut in half and remove the seeds. 4. For faster bake time, cut into pumpkin wedges. 5. Brush melted coconut oil on the pumpkin wedges. 6. Bake, starting to check for doneness around 45 minutes. Let the wedges cool. 7. Scrape out the pumpkin / remove the peel. 8. Toss in a food processor, about two minutes total in 30 second increments. 9. Put the puree in cute jars (yields just under 4 cups).

We enjoyed ours in pumpkin spaghetti squash and pumpkin chili