For The Love of Food
By now we all know that organic foods and products are healthier and better for us than those that aren’t. Organic milk, organic produce, organic grains…..but what about a key element in all our baking and cooking that makes our dishes taste delicious… what about organic spices? Yes, spices and herbs are best to buy organic too! I know in the beginning of my wellness journey I had no idea that using organic spices had an impact on my health, but the more I learned the more I realized that those nasty store bought packets of ranch dip, taco seasonings and Italian seasonings that I was buying on a weekly basis, didn’t contain organic spices, and were packed with icky ingredients such as MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and other chemical additives I can’t pronounce.
Of course now I use organic spices to make my own seasoning blends, well, really now I make EVERYTHING using organic materials… (I even make my own shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant, but that can be for a future blog!).
Organic Spices in D.I.Y. Seasoning Blends
Making your own seasoning blends does take a little time, but it’s worth it. Just knowing your family isn’t getting any extra unwanted and unnecessary sodium and chemicals in the food you prepare for them, is all worth it. Plus, it only takes a little chunk of time, because once you’re done you have a ton of seasonings that you won’t have to buy or make for a while! And if you buy your organic spices and herbs in bulk at shopOrganic, it will save you money in the long run! Now here are a few of my favorite seasoning blends using organic spices, that I make most often!
Taco Seasoning Blend Recipe with Organic Spices:
1/4 cup Cumin Powder
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1 tablespoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Oregano
1-4 Tablespoons Cayenne Powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 teaspoon ground pepper
To Make: Place all ingredients in bowl and mix. Store in an air tight container or jar (I like to use mason jars). Use just like you would use with any taco seasonings. I use about 2 Tbsp. per pound of meat when I am making tacos. Adjust it to your preference.
Italian Seasoning Blend with Organic Spices:
1/2 cup Basil
1/2 cup Oregano
1/4 cup Rosemary
1/4 cup Marjoram
1/4 cup Thyme
1/4 cup Sage
2 -3 Tablespoons Dried Minced Garlic
To make: This one I actually throw in my vita mix and pulse it a few times just to cut down the rosemary and make it a tad finer. You can also use a mortar and pestle or a food processer. Store in container until ready to use. Use in all your favorite Italian recipes.
Ranch Dressing Mix with Organic Spices:
1/4 cup Dried Parsley
1 Tablespoon Dill
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Basil (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper
2-4 teaspoons Sea Salt (optional)
To Make: Mix together and store in an air tight container.
For dressing: Mix 2 tablespoons dry Ranch mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.
For Dip: Mix 2 tablespoons dry Ranch Mix with 2 cups of sour cream or yogurt. Store in fridge until ready to use.
Dry Onion Soup Mix with Organic Spices:
2/3 cup Dried, Minced Onion
3 teaspoons Parsley Flakes
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
2 teaspoons Turmeric (optional )
1 teaspoon Celery Seed (or omit salt and use Celery Salt)
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Organic Sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Mix all ingredients and store in jar. Remember to shake before each use.
Use 4 tablespoons in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix. Store this in a dry, cool place.
Tip: If you buy herbs in bulk you can freeze them for longer use!
Those are my four most used seasonings using organic spices in my home. Which organic spices and herbs are your favorites? Do you have a seasoning you would like to share? I know I would love to see if anyone has a good homemade curry seasoning recipe… I just can’t seem to make a good one!
A bowl of organic oatmeal is a hearty and healthy breakfast, but did you know how versatile oatmeal really is? Not only is it a high fiber, delicious breakfast food, it can be used for beauty care, kitchen cleanup, kids’ activities, and more. Let’s take a look at 25 uses for organic oatmeal:
Skin Care with Organic Oatmeal:
1. Acne: Spread cooked oatmeal (after it has cooled) over your problem skin. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse. Oatmeal can absorb and remove oil and bacteria from skin, and exfoliates dead skin cells, all of which can combat acne. Try adding honey and tea tree oil for more acne fighting power.
2. Itch relief: If you’re suffering from the itchiness of poison ivy, chicken pox or even a sunburn, try an oatmeal bath. As a kid who got a lot of poison ivy, I can vouch for this one. Place oats in an an old piece of clean pantyhose and knot it around the faucet in the bathtub so that it hangs in the water. Draw a warm bath, allowing the water to run through the oats. Soak in the tub and use the pouch of oats to rub your itchy skin.
3. General skin problems: Its easy to make your own oatmeal soap or scrub for any skin problems. To make a scrub, grind 2 Tbsp of oatmeal in a blender then add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and enough water to make a paste. Spread on dry skin then rinse off after 10 minutes. Oatmeal soap can be made using the bits of soap left in your shower. Melt them down with a small amount of organic oatmeal and pour into a mold. Cool and you have your own fresh organic oatmeal soap.
4. Rejuvenating face mask: Mix 1/2 cup hot water with 1/3 cup oatmeal for two or three minutes, then add two tablespoons each plain yogurt and honey, plus one egg white. Spread thinly on the face, then relax for 10 minutes and rinse with warm water.
5. Stress releif: You don’t need itchy skin to have an excuse for an oatmeal bath. Try adding a cup of milk, two cups of oats (in a pouch) and a tablespoon of honey to the bath to moisturize the skin and relax the body. You could also use scented oils in a ground oatmeal pouch, as described in the itch remedy above.
6. Go ‘No-Poo’: If you’re not familiar with the trend, many people are moving away from using shampoo and are using other methods to cleanse the hair and scalp. Grind oatmeal into a powder and mix with an equal amount of baking soda. Rub into the scalp and let it soak up oils and odors, then brush out.
7. Itchy dogs: Dogs also suffer from dry skin and hair problems. Try mixing equal parts oats and warm water and rubbing the mixture thinly over a dog’s dry, itchy spots. Wrap in aluminum foil and keep the dog still for 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and repeat regularly until your dog is scratching less.
8. Pore Refiner: Mix 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup hot water, and 1/4 cup honey in a food processor. Let cool, and apply. Wait 10 minutes, and rinse.
9. DIY Scrub: To smooth out rough skin your body or face, make your own scrub out of oatmeal by grinding up two or three tablespoons of oats in a food processor. Add one or two teaspoons of baking soda and enough water to turn it into a paste. Smooth the scrub onto the skin and rub gently in a circular motion. After about 20 minutes, rinse off the paste with cool water.
Organic Oatmeal For Your Health:
10. Weight Loss: Oats have more fiber than wheat and other flours so cooking with oat flour offers a more full feeling with fewer calories.
11. Fuel Your Exercise: Studies have shown that oats can help fuel muscles during a workout. Eat oatmeal about three hours before your next endurance run or bike ride and enjoy the benefits of this high fiber complex carbohydrate.
12. Lower Cholesterol: The soluble fiber in oats lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Oatmeal may curb small LDL cholesterol particles, which may be riskier than bigger LDL particles.
13. Reduce Inflammation: Lab tests show that antioxidants in oats have anti-inflammatory properties. It would be impractical to try to eat the amount of oatmeal needed to get the antioxidant levels used in those tests, but smaller doses over time may have benefits.
14. Cardiovascular Benefits: Since organic oatmeal is high in fiber it offers many cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure. Postmenopausal women, who tend to develop high blood pressure, should eat six servings of oatmeal on a weekly basis. Studies show that men can also reduce their risk of heart failure if they eat one bowl of oatmeal, per day.
15. Stable Blood Sugar: A high fiber diet that includes organic oatmeal for breakfast will stabilize blood sugar levels and won’t cause the mid-morning slumps, which comes from eating a lot of sugar and carbs in the morning.
16. Immune System Booster: Oatmeal contains a type of fiber called beta-gluten fiber. This fiber protects against heart disease and also supports the immune system, helping the immune cells seek out and repair areas of the body that may be fighting a bacterial infection.
17. Prevent Diabetes: Oatmeal isn’t just a good source of fiber, it is also a good source of magnesium, which regulates the body’s insulin and glucose levels. It’s been shown that, over the course of eight years, women who eat a diet rich in whole grains like oatmeal can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by up to 31 percent.
18. Lower Risk of Breast Cancer: A study in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggested that premenopausal women can reduce their risk of breast cancer up to 41 percent by focusing on diets rich in oatmeal and other whole grains.
Household Uses For Organic Oatmeal:
19. Odor Absorber: Oatmeal can absorb odors in your refrigerator or bathroom. Just leave a container of oats open in your fridge or any other smelly spot.
20. Kid’s Toy: Make your own substitute for Play-Doh with organic oatmeal. Just mix two parts oatmeal with one part flour and one part water. Add some natural food coloring if you’d like. Once mixed, it can be molded into virtually any shape and can be painted once dry.
21. Soak Up Oil Spills: Cover the oil puddle with uncooked oatmeal and let it sit for 5 minutes before sweeping it up.
Organic Oatmeal In Your Kitchen:
22. Breadcrumb Substitute: Process oats in a food processor and use in place of breadcrumbs in meatballs, meatloaf and veggie burgers.
23. All Purpose Flour Substitute: Grind oats in a food processor to create oat flour and use as a healthier substitute for traditional flour in cookies, pancakes, breads and more. You’ll get twice the fiber with less calories.
24. Homemade Granola: Nothing is better than fresh warm granola right out of the oven. Control the ingredients in your granola by making it at home. Here’s a great recipe for a basic granola that you can add to with whatever dried fruits and nuts you like: http://www.chow.com/recipes/30062-basic-granola
25. Thickener: Soups, stews and dips can be thickened with some ground oats or oat flour.
Now that you’ve seen the whole list, what are some of your favorite ways to use organic oatmeal?
How to Make Organic Milk from Organic Raw Almonds:
- Soak 1 cup of raw almonds in water 6-8 hours or overnight (make sure the nuts are covered in water).
- When done soaking pour out the water and rinse, then pour nuts in your blender.
- Add 3 cups of filtered water and blend on high for 3 minutes.
- Strain milk through a nut bag, sieve or cheese cloth. Place in a jar and put in fridge. Use within 3-4 days.
How to Make Organic Milk from Cashews (this is my favorite, quick easy, no fuss):
- Pour 1 cup of raw cashews right into your blender (no need to soak or rinse)
- Add 3 cups of water and blend on high for 2-3 minutes. Pour in jar and use within 3-4 days (no need to strain)
- To make an extra special treat, here is a little variation: Vanilla Honey Cinnamon Cashew Milk. Just add the following ingredients to your blender alongside the nuts:
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2-2 tbsp of Honey (you can also use maple syrup or stevia to sweeten also)
Important Note about Raw Almonds:
In 2007 the USDA implemented a mandatory pasteurization program for almonds in the U.S. This rule was called for in response to two recalls of raw almonds from conventional farms due to the presence of salmonella. So please take caution that if you purchase organic almonds in North America, they will have gone through steam pasteurization. Unfortunately in North America, now that “raw” almonds are pasteurized (by one of the above methods) they are still able to label them as “raw” because they aren’t roasted. When experimenting with pasteurized raw almonds, I found that they did still sprout. While there’s no guarantee that a pasteurized almond would sprout, some are making it to market with their life force intact.
What’s your favorite kind of organic milk? Do you make your own organic milk? Or do you have a favorite brand?
1. “Cashews,” WHFoods.org
2. “Walnuts,” WHFoods.org
I’ve become a recent organic legume evangelist. In my quest to find the best diet for my body, I’ve tried a lot of different eating plans. I’d been eating a low-glycemic raw food diet for a few months and was pleased with how easy it was for me to stay away from sweets once they were out of my diet completely. The downside was that to feel satisfied and full, I was eating a lot of nuts, seeds and oils and I had some negative side effects from that. It was a great conversation with a customer about eating vegan that led me to the embrace organic legumes. She recommended to me the book ‘Eat To Live’ by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating at least one cup of organic legumes per day, along with 1 pound of raw vegetables, 1 pound of cooked vegetables and a few pieces of fruit. I picked up a copy and decided to give it a shot.
I hadn’t been using beans or legumes at all in my diet so it was important to introduce them slowly. You know that song, ‘beans, beans, good for you heart, the more you eat them…’ you know the rest. Adding organic legumes a little bit at a time allows the body to adjust so that you don’t have to suffer the gassy fate of that song. It is true though, that beans really are good for your heart – and they have a multitude of health benefits that everyone, not just vegans, can enjoy.
Organic legumes are a staple food in many regions of the world. Organic legumes and beans are rich in copper, iron, magnesium and folic acid, nutrients that many of us are deficient in. Peas as well as dried beans are also a good source of absorbable iron, great for anyone, but especially beneficial for vegans. They are low in fat, high in quality protein and are one of the best sources of soluble fiber. That fiber is what makes beans and legumes heart healthy, by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Eating organic legumes and beans is especially beneficial for people with diabetes as the soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugars, keeping blood glucose levels stable.
How To Cook With Organic Legumes
It takes a bit of advanced planning to use dried organic legumes. You’ll want to sort through the dried beans looking for discolored beans and pebbles. Once they’re sorted through, rinse them in cold water then soak them for 6-8 hours or longer if it works better for your schedule. I often soak them in the morning before work and cook them when I come home from work so they’re soaking a good 9 hours. Soaking is the best way to offset their gas-producing effects; it also shortens your cooking time. When your soak time is up, skim off any beans that are floating on top, then drain the water and rinse. Place the beans in a pot and add fresh water. My quick tip is to use enough water to cover the beans plus two knuckles worth of water. If you put a finger in the water so that the tip of your finger touches the top of the beans, you should fill the water to your second knuckle. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender. Depending on the variety it should be about one to three hours. At this point you can season them however you like. A bit like tofu, beans take on whatever flavor you add so you can be as creative or as simple as you’d like. You can use organic legumes as a hot stew or soup, add them cold to salads, or blend them to make a spread for wraps.
Since adding organic legumes to my diet, I am able to fill up easily without adding a lot of fat to my diet. The versatility of legumes has been a real treat, I can eat them every day and not get bored at all. My favorite of all of the organic legumes would have to be lentils; here are a few recipes using them in different ways so you can see the versatility:
Red Lentil Dip
1 cup red lentils
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Place lentils and bay leaf in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes until tender. Drain and discard the bay leaf. Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until onions are translucent. Add the remaining ingredients in the list (aside from the lemon juice) and cook for about 5 minutes. Combine lentils with the onion mixture in a food processor and add the lemon juice; process until smooth. Enjoy on crackers, pita, with fresh veggies or as a wrap filling.
Cold Lentil Veggie Salad
1 cup uncooked green lentils
1 tablesoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup red cabbage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Place lentils in a deep pot and cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil them cook, covered, over medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes or until tender. They should retain their shape. Drain and rinse with cold water.
In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and vinegar. In a medium bowl, combine cooked lentils, green onion, parsley, red onion, carrot and red cabbage. Add olive oil and lemon mixture to lentils and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.
Spicy Lentil Tacos
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup dried green lentils
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup jarred salsa
12 corn tortillas (I like Ezekiel brand)
Sauté the garlic and onion in the oil in a medium pot for 4-6 minutes, or until they become soft and fragrant. Add the lentils and the chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir to combine. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more to allow the mixture to thicken. Mash the lentils with a fork and stir in the salsa. Spoon the mixture into the tortillas and top with your favorite taco toppings like shredded lettuce and fresh tomato.
How do you like to use organic legumes? Please share your favorite recipes in the comments!
As a vegan who’s picky about the ingredients in the foods I eat, finding a milk alternative wasn’t easy. Most commercial nut beverages contain added ingredients to stabilize the liquid. I also found that I’d open up a carton of nut milk and it would go bad in my fridge before I used it all. I decided to explore making my own so that I could control the ingredients and make just what I’d need without wasting anything. The easiest way I found is to make nut milk out of organic nut butter. It’s so simple you’ll never buy packaged nut milks again.
How To Make Nut Milk From Organic Nut Butter
The basic recipe is 1 tablespoon of organic nut butter to 1 cup of water. You’ll need a blender, but it doesn’t have to be a high powered one, a regular blender will do. Just whizz the nut butter and water together until it is milky and smooth. Use more water if you like a thinner consistency, less water if you want a thicker consistency. A thicker nut milk makes a great creamer substitute.
Making your own nut milk out of organic nut butter allows you to make only what you need so that you’re not wasting any. The most common nut butter used to do this would be almond butter but experiment with other nut butters like cashew butter, walnut butter, peanut butter and pecan butter.
Keeping organic nut butter on hand is a great way to make sure you’ll always have nut milk available for recipes. Cashew butter, when made into milk, is the best cream substitute I’ve found. One of my favorite recipes to make is a creamed spinach recipe using cashew milk instead of cream. It is so rich and delicious, my 11 year old step-son was even asking for more.
How to make vegan creamed spinach using nut milk:
- 1 lb fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 c cashew milk
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- pinch of salt
Steam sauté the spinach until wilted and drain to remove the water. Add cashew milk and spices to the pan and stir constantly until the mixture thickens, 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.
At shopOrganic, I’m the one who’s the baker in the group so when the team asked if I would write about my top ten organic baking ingredients, I naturally jumped at the chance. I’ve been baking since I was a kid, but it was only in the last decade I started using organic baking ingredients – and I’ve noticed a difference. The flavors are deeper and the end results are delectable. So, let’s take a look at organic baking ingredients and why they matter.
Organic products contain no artificial colors, no additives, no chemicals and most important, no pesticides or Genetically Modified Organisms (organic is, by definition, GMO-free). So, you’re packing in flavor and nutrition without all that other nonsense. Baked goods made from organic baking ingredients have great flavor and texture.
Top Ten Organic Baking Ingredients
1. Organic pastry flour – if you want a great pastry or any other baked good that requires flour with a bit less protein content. Protein gives flour structure when used in baked goods, so a pastry flour needs to be softer, more delicate. Organic pastry flour is top on my list of organic baking ingredients.
2. Organic coconut oil – organic coconut oil can be substituted for just about any kind of oil, but you need to be aware that organic coconut oil is so flavorful that you need to be OK with the flavor of coconut subtly infused in your baked goods.
3. Organic raw honey – honey is a great sweetener for baked goods, but you need to adjust your liquids down to accommodate for the liquid provided by the honey. The sweetness of honey is warm and mellow, not as sweet as cane sugar, so it can be a great choice for soft, subtle flavors.
4. Organic cane sugar – sometimes you need sugar for a recipe and nothing else will do quite as well. For example, I’ve found that when I need to cream organic butter and sugar, organic cane sugar is the best choice. The process of creaming these two ingredients adds air to the butter, so using cane sugar is a good choice.
5. Organic coconut flour – this is a unique ingredient that adds fiber and great flavor to your baked ingredients. Coconut flour absorbs liquids more than wheat flour, so mix ¼ coconut flour and ¾ wheat flour for best results – you may need to adjust your liquids a bit as well.
6. Organic quinoa flour – this is a delicate, flavorful flour you can use for in just about any recipe. Full of protein and fiber, you can use in place of regular flour or mix ½ and ½.
7. Sea salt – though not technically “organic”, sea salt adds a depth of flavor you won’t find in standard commercial salt. There are many different types of sea salt and you can experiment with which you like best – Portuguese, French, Himalayan, Hawaiian and more. Each has a unique flavor profile and you can try different salts for different recipes.
8. Active dry yeast – another product that’s natural (vs. organic), but still worth a shout out is active dry yeast. Here’s a tip – use fresh yeast that’s within its “best by” date so it has the most leavening power. Old, out of date yeast will disappoint you in the rise you get on your yeast baked goods.
9. Organic pecans – honestly, of all the nuts to bake with, organic pecans are my hands-down favorite. Their naturally sweet flavor becomes sweeter and nuttier with the heat of the over. Use whole or pieces, I put them in just about everything.
10. Organic Medjool dates – dates are a great way to sweeten baked goods, but they also add a wonderful flavor, texture and fiber. You can mash them, dice them or slice them into you baked goods.
No matter what you like to bake, organic baking ingredients make your baked goods tastier and certainly healthier. Give a few of these ingredients a try and let us know YOUR favorites or add to the list!
Looking for a fast, easy, delicious soup for a cold winter night?
Try this delicious, organic (vegan) spinach soup recipe – ready in minutes!
This is one of my all time favorite organic soup recipes – spinach potato. It cooks up in minutes, it’s a vibrant green and the potato gives it a great mouth feel without adding any fat. It’s satisfying, filling and packed with healthy nutrients. If you’ve ever had the urge to ‘eat something green’ on a cold winter day, this recipe is for you.
Yield: Four 8 oz servings, you can double this recipe for larger servings
Immersion blender or food processor
1 large container (16 oz.) fresh, organic spinach (you can substitute frozen, but it won’t be as fabulous).
1 large organic russet potato
1/8 tsp nutmeg or to taste
white pepper (black pepper is ok too) – to taste
salt – to taste
2. Wash and slice the potato into thin slices (1/4 inch)
You can serve this with a nice chunk of fresh bread, a bit of grated cheese or my favorite – a grilled cheese sandwich made with organic sharp cheddar cheese on dark rye or pumpernickel bread. Yum. Warm up, fill up and enjoy this delicious soup today!
Looking for ingredients?
This time of year can be tempting with all the delicious food folks cook up and bring to work. This holiday season, I’m trying out new recipes to see if I can put a healthier twist on some of my favorites. This is the first one, though admittedly, it’s not that much healthier than traditional pumpkin pie – but it IS guaranteed to impress for about the same amount of effort as homemade pumpkin pie. Without the crust, it’s certainly fewer calories and next time I make this, I’ll try a vegan version using organic oat milk instead of the luscious half and half.
Here’s how it started – I got a box of Pacific Foods organic pumpkin puree as a trial and thought I’d do something different. With a quiet afternoon (a rare gift in my world) and a recipe in hand, I looked through my pantry to see if I had all the ingredients. Miraculously, I did. Pumpkin souffle ensued.
Tips for making a great soufflé
- Ensure your eggs are at room temperature. Take the out at least 20 minutes in advance.
- When you separate your egg yolks from egg whites, ensure there is NO yolk in the whites.
- Put the whites in a stainless steel bowl that is clean and has no grease or oil at all.
- When you fold in the egg whites, be slow and gentle, it’s worth the extra 10 minutes of effort.
- When you put the ramekins in the oven, do not open the oven at all. Trust your oven and your timer.
4 organic, free range (local, if available) eggs
1 ½ cups Pacific Foods organic pumpkin puree (1 box).
½ cup organic sugar + ¼ cup sugar for egg whites
½ cup organic half & half
½ teaspoon organic vanilla (I use Singing Dog because it has the added bonus of a vanilla bean inside)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
First Things First
Preheat your oven to 375. Make sure one of the racks is in the center of the oven.
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Ensure no yolk leaks into the whites. (Hint: I separate the egg, then pour the white into another bowl and repeat. That way, if one egg yolk breaks, you haven’t ruined all the egg whites). Set egg whites and egg yolks aside.
Make Your Pumpkin Puree Mixture
In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, ½ cup sugar (use ¼ cup here if you like less sweet, more pumpkin flavor), your spices, vanilla and salt. Set aside. If you’re going to use an alternative to organic granulated cane sugar, you might want to experiment with the recipe once or twice. Who needs the stress of wondering if your ‘new’ recipe will turn out properly on a big holiday?
Prepare 8 ramekins on a baking sheet. I usually melt a bit of organic butter (or soften to room temperature) – about a pat of butter size – and grease the inside of the ramekins. Set on the baking dish and set aside.
Preparing Your Egg Whites
Beat your egg whites with the ¼ tsp of cream of tartar. If using an electric mixer (recommended), start off slowly. As the whites firm up, gradually increase speed. When they are still soft but starting to form peaks, slowly (1-2 TBS at a time is slowly) mix in your remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Continue to beat with all the sugar added until the egg whites are shiny and stiff.
Take about ½ of your pumpkin puree out of the bowl (yes, it makes another dirty bowl, but worth it) and set aside. Slowly fold in the egg whites about a ½ cup at a time into ½ the pumpkin mixture. Once you’ve gently folded in about ½ the egg whites, add the remaining pumpkin puree back into the large bowl and continue folding the egg whites in. The more slowly and the more of a folding motion you use, the more air that will remain in the egg whites and the fluffier your soufflé will turn out.
Fill Your Ramekins
Once all folded in, use a ladle to fill your ramekins to just below the rim.
Bake, Don’t Peek
Place in the middle of your oven at 375 for 17 minutes. Do not open the oven, don’t even turn on the light to peek. At 17 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool. As you can see (below), my souffle caved in a bit – I think my oven is just a shade cooler than 375, so next time, I’ll either use an oven thermometer to verify the temperature or leave them in about three minutes longer. Still, I ate one of the smaller ones and it was perfect – so don’t distress if yours cave a bit upon cooling – it happens and it will still taste amazing and even the best will settle a bit.
You can serve immediately – place each ramekin on a small plate, dust with organic powdered sugar (if desired) or an organic cinnamon/organic sugar mix (you can free form this) or organic whipped cream, some mint sprigs for color – your choice! I serve them just as they are and they’re scrumptious!
Happy Thanksgiving – enjoy these tasty little treats instead of pumpkin pie this holiday season!