Because my past life (as in before children) was lived as a free wandering chef, and a drop out naturopath student for a short time (such a divide between the two professions), I have a huge belief that food is so important in your life. Both for the soul and body. Food as medicine - for your body as you fill it with the nutrients you need to grow, heal, have energy, and the right headspace. Food for the soul, nourishing you out of pure comfort. It tastes so great. It reminds you of your favourite childhood dish, or that holiday you went on. It makes you want more, it encourages you to share with loved ones. I love to bring food to any gathering. It makes me happy.
MOSTLY, I will aim for good nutrition, ALWAYS excellent flavours, and SOMETIMES...well sometimes it's okay to just be a bit naughty. Im my Baby Massage and group workshops, it is important, I feel, to have something to snack on. We are all so busy, and particularly for Mum's post partum, too often they are running on cold tea and toast, and the fumes of food as they wander by. I hope this is not true for you all, but know in reality, the idea of cooking, eating nutritious meals when you are home alone all day juggling your baby, can sometimes be put on the back burner.
I like to keep everything pretty simple, and be very flexible with a recipe. Because let's face it, there are very few recipes out there that you cannot adjust to suit your unique taste buds and dietary requirements. It's just getting a feel of how to 'tweak' things without messing up the measures. Stick with me and my fairly loose recipes, and I'll guide you through this concept time and again until it comes second nature. Get ready for the most ...ish recipe collection you ever did see. Of course this means at times I will partly or completely bugger up, and it will come out a whole new dish, or something not be be spoken of again (certainly not in my blog posts). But most times, I promise, I get things pretty right. (Just ask me. I'll tell you how awesome it is ;-) )
This Pumpkin 'muffin' recipe is totally smashing! It's simple. You can prep in bits ahead with other meals so you don't feel time pressures. And alter flavours to suit you. And all the measures are fairly flexible too. I love to ensure Mama's are getting a hit of high energy nutrients in their morning, and this particular class that I first made it for had vegetarians, lactose free, and paleo Mama's. Mostly due to trial and error of their bubs intolerances - skin break outs, 'unexplained' screaming, nasty nappies (beyond their own bub's 'norm') and obvious discomfort. By eliminating certain foods from their diet, their bubs felt so much better. And so obviously they did too. Such clever Mama's.
This muffin makes great lunchbox snacks or baby led weaning food…..just make sure any seeds/nuts are omitted or well blended, depending on your child, your choices and your school requirements. It also makes a gorgeous dish for lunch for visitors or a picnic. And you can add or omit flavours you do/don't want.
Now I confess that I originally found this recipe online, and I cannot for the life of me find the original, but to you who did it first, I acknowledge you, I will keep looking and if/when I stumble across it, I will edit this post with a link to you. I then tweaked it to what I had in the cupboard (the usual reason for 'tweaking' for me), and personal preference flavours. So here we go:
Smashing Pumpkin 'Muffin' Recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes: 12-14 small-average, or just pile them up and make them larger for a yummy lunch
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes (split between cooking pumpkin, then muffin)
Can the kids help? Totally! Try letting them choose their own adaptations.
Half of a half butternut pumpkin (340-420g raw = 200-250g cooked). You don't need to be too exact.
¼ cup blend (almonds/pepitas/sunflower (or any blend of nuts/seeds you have)
3 eggs (room temperature)
⅓ cup coconut oil (melted but no more than warm, or any other oil you’d prefer - Olive, avocado….)
A great big handful of spinach
A sprig of spring onions - fine chop
A handful of fav herb (I used coriander. Parsley or basil is fine too
½ cup coconut flour
1.5 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
Cut pumpkin in even dice. I did this one pretty small, but actually preferred my 1st effort- resulting in a little chunkier pumpkin bits. If you need to hide the pumpkin from the kids, cut it smaller, or maybe mash it before mixing it into the egg mix. I haven’t tried this but imagine you’ll get a much more ‘muffin’ type muffin with less bits for fussy eaters. Experiment with what you like best.
Toss with a little oil & roast 10-15min (190 degrees)
Throw nuts/seeds into your food processer & pulse a couple of times. No processer? Try old fashioned chopping, or smash in a morter and pestle. Add a little salt, pepper and lemon zest to make like a basic dukkah.
Sprinkle ‘dukkah’ (nuts & seeds) over pumpkin & roast a few more minutes until you can smell the delish flavour and the pumpkin is roasted just the way you like it. If you can’t have nuts, just use seeds. Also super tasty and still offering you a healthy fat & protein source.
Cool all of this enough to touch. (You don’t want to cook your egg too early) You can even cook the pumpkin & dukkah all the day before. (Great time to prep a healthy lunch or snack when next preparing your roast veggies or pumpkin soup.)
Preheat oven to 170 degrees
In a large bowl mix your eggs
Mix through pumpkin mix, spinach, spring onions & herbs so evenly mixed.
THEN add Coconut flour* and baking powder (gluten free)
* It is VERY IMPORTANT that you add your coconut flour last after everything else is mixed through. I learned the hard way. Coconut flour is a little like rapid set concrete. You don’t mess around with it and take your time. It thickens everything up FAST! So add it last. (It you do forget, it is not throw away. You just have to work harder at trying to blend everything evenly. Maybe add a little extra water. Turns a 5 minute job into a 10 minute job. Seriously, when you’re a time poor Mama, you don’t want to be doubling your prep time. ;-)
If the mix is a little dry, add a little water, ⅛ cup at a time. (You can always add more, but it’s very hard to take it out again)
If you like this recipe, here’s a few idea to play with flavours, mix it up for interest, but keep the simplicity of the dish. Just remember to keep your ratio of coconut flour, baking flour, and oil. It’s all about KISS recipes for me these days. Keep It Simple Stoopid.
Try adding a grated zuchinni and/or corn (1cob, or as much as looks like a good mix to you). Turn it into a veggie muffin.
Don't like pumkin? Try sweet potato (Although you probably haven't made it this far)
If you love your meat, add some diced cooked bacon. 2-3 rashers will do. Or get really fancy and slice a little fresh prosciutto or parma ham through.
If you love your dairy mix thru some diced fetta
Or grated cheese of your choice
Or try chunks of camembert/brie to make it a little creamy
I recently tried Persian Cashew Feta- a Vegans dream, but super tasty for everyone else too
Play with your spices - Before roasting your pumpkin, sprinkle over a little cumin, or chilli flakes or throw in a whole bulb of garlic to roast. Squeeze out the delicious creamy roast garlic and mix through your warm pumpkin to taste, before adding the rest.
Don’t like spinach or nuts or seeds or herbs….leave them out. Substitute them with other stuff.
Try adding sundried tomatoes chopped nice and tiny
Or rocket chopped up roughly
Or super finely chopped lemon grass. (Or a drop or 2 of high grade Lemongrass essential oil. (Thank you DoTerra)
Love the benefits of another quality food grade oil - sub it in place of coconut oil (be sure it’s not so strong that it overpowers the flavour.
My thing on recipes is you want them to work, but you want to love the flavour too. You need it to work for you and your family. Maybe try the recipe first to see what you think, as is. Then try your own tweaks and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your feedback. Enjoy. Xx