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Pumpkin Pie for Everyone

I say this pumpkin pie is for everyone because the ingredients are so simple, practically everyone can eat it. There’s no crust (though you could add one if you want) so there are no grains, and there is no sweetener of any kind (though it tastes remarkably sweet!). And it’s so delicious you won’t miss the usually-soggy crust or the sugar. It’s my favorite pumpkin pie ever!

A thoroughly satisfying dessert for any day of autumn or winter!

I have made this with pumpkin and butternut squash and carnival squash (my favorite) they tasted almost exactly the same (except the carnival squash had more flaor and was sweeter. I think you could use any winter squash. And I’m also going to try sweet potatoes, and see how that works.

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How to Roast A Pumpkin . . . And Other Winter Squashes

First I want to tell you about pumpkins.

I used to make anything “pumpkin” with pumpkin, which is a winter squash. And then one day I was watching a cooking show on television and it was suggested that one make pumpkin pie with kabocha squash instead because they had more flavor than pumpkin squash. So I immediately went and bought a kabocha squash and made a pumpkin pie, and was very disappointed. I didn’t like the flavor at all.

But that got me thinking. Maybe there was a winter squash that was better than pumpkin for pumpkin recipes, and after trying many I found one: carnival squash. It’s denser than pumpkin, creamier in texture, and sweeter.

You can learn more about winter squash at About.com Local Foods: Winter Squash & Pumpkins. They have a whole list of winter squashes with links to individual pages for each one. No carnival squash, alas, but I have it at my local natural food store.

Carnival squash is now my winter squash of choice for all those pumpkin recipes.

If you want to use pumpkin pumpkin, choose a smaller “pie” pumpkin rather than a large pumpkin like you would carve for a jack-lantern. The smaller pumpkins have better texture and flavor.

Now, if you are going to make a pumpkin recipe, you’ll need to roast the pumpkin and process the meat, in order to get a pumpkin puree that is like what you would get out of a can. Please don’t buy canned pumpkin! Roasting your own is so easy and tastes so much better and there’s no BPA from the can lining, which can disrupt your whole endocrine system.

How To Roast a Pumpkin or Other Winter Squash

First you need to cut the pumpkin open.

For that, you need tools. Ideally a good cleaver and a rubber mallet. If you don’t have one in your kitchen, go down to your local home improvement store and buy one, because you can use it for all kinds of things around the kitchen. They are about $5.00. If you don’t have a cleaver, this might be a good time to buy one of those too, as you will use it often.

If you have these tools the job is easy. Just sit the squash on it’s bottom so it’s stable, position the sharp edge of the knife on the top point, and whack the knife with the mallet. The squash will crack open. You’ll probably need to continue to whack the knife on the ends as it is stuck in the squash until the squash cracks completely into two pieces. If you want quarters, do the same again.

If you don’t have a cleaver and mallet, use the biggest knife you have. Position the sharp side of the knife on the point of the squash and put a folded kitchen towel over the knife to protect your hand. Hit the knife hard with your hand or a heavy object. You’ll be able to open it, but if you want to make winter squash frequently, as I do, you’ll go buy a mallet and cleaver.

Then you want to scoop out the seeds. Again, easy.

I find roasting to be the best way to cook winter squash because it concentrates the flavor and you can easily scoop it out of the cooked shell, rather than trying to peel off the tough skin.

Once you’ve cut the squash in two, place the pieces cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. I always add a little water to make steam in the oven. Not much, maybe 1/2 a cup.

Bake the squash at 350 degrees F for an hour or more. Let it get good and soft. Don’t rush it. You’ll know it’s done when your tray looks like this:

When the pieces are cool enough to touch, scrape the squash out of the shell with a soup spoon.

Then puree the squash meat in a food processor and you are ready to make any delicious recipe that calls for pumpkin puree. I like to just keep this puree on hand during the season because there are so many sweet and savory dishes to make with it.

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Most Canned Foods Are Tainted With BPA—Even Organic

One of the reasons I am doing this food blog is because most canned foods are lined with a resin that contains bis-phenol-A (BPA), which easily migrates into the food we eat. 

The important thing to know about BPA is that while it can easily disrupt your endocrine system, it doesn’t stay in your body very long. If you have BPA in your body, you can easily lessen levels by eliminating your exposure. And if you eat canned food—even organic—cutting out those canned foods is a great place to start.

I used to think that commercial foods canned in glass didn’t contain BPA because the food wasn’t in cans. Until I talked to a woman at a farmer’s market one day about her “fresh” pasta sauce and found out it was made with only the finest Italian canned tomatoes.

Is BPA really in the food? A study done in 2010 found that BPA was detected in 92% of canned foods tested.

Canned food companies claim that BPA is safe and necessary to protect food from metal corrosion and bacterial contamination. But hundreds of scientific studies show health effects from even low exposures to BPA, including cancer, abnormal behavior, diabetes, heart disease, infertility, developmental and reproductie harm, obesity, and early puberty.

This excellent study gives detailed information on health effects of BPA, where it is found in canned foods, and how much expsoure to BPA you can actually get from eating canned foods over the course of a day. Remember too, many restaurants and take-out places use a lot of canned foods–perhaps even more than you would use at home.

The solution is to make your own meals at home from fresh organic ingredients. And that’s why I’m doing this blog, to help you make delicious meals at home that you and your family will love, that are free of toxic chemicals.

No Silver Lining: An Investigation into Bisphenol A in Canned Foods

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