Healthy Choices

Halloween came and went. I guess we had too many pumpkins -no one wanted to carved the small pie pumpkins.
I’ve never made pumpkin butter -so I gave it a try. I found a few recipes, each very much like the other; Pumpkin puree, sugar and spices. I reduced the sugar, added some honey. We are using pumpkin butter on toast -a less sweet alternative to jam.

  • 3 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 apple juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Peel and slice 3-4 pie pumpkins. Steam and puree. (If you do not achive 3 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree, reduce the amount of brown sugar and honey)

Combine all ingredients in a deep sauce pan. Boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover with lid ajar to release steam. Simmer for one hour stirring often.

Cool in the pan. Once cool, stir in lemon juice.

Fill two quart jars. Store refrigerated.

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This recipe should be a secret. Apple cider mills, the ones that also make yummy donuts to go with their cider, would probably prefer I keep this recipe to myself; because this cake tastes just like cider mill doughnuts. Better then their doughnuts because it contains no refined sugar and is not deep fried.

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted/cooled
  • 1/3 c oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, or ordinary yogurt, strained for 30 minutes
  • 1 cup steamed and pureed butternut squash (canned pumpkin or squash is a fine substitute)
  • 1 ¾ cups unbleached cake flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of white pepper
  • 1 pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350º and line a buttered 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper.
Sift together all of the dry ingredients.
Beat melted butter, oil, honey, and maple syrup until well combined.
Add eggs one at a time, and beat well.
Fold in yogurt and butternut squash puree.
Gently fold wet and dry ingredients together.
Pour into the prepared cake pan
Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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My family does not participate in the school lunch program. This does not mean that the foods served at our school don’t matter much to me – they do. My children are members of a school community, the students in their school are their playmates and friends; at times their confidants and supporters. We care very much.

I believe the new federal guidelines have improved the quality and variety of foods served in our elementary school. My kids told me about the fruit and vegetable bar, and I was eager to see it for myself. On the day I visited, the fruit was canned and not optional, vegetables were available from the “bar”. While the container of chick peas appeared untouched, I was pleased to see the tossed lettuce salad was popular. Not surprising to me, the container of broccoli “trees” was nearly empty. Yay!

Yes, at James Monroe Elementary the new food is appreciated by parents and kids. I was interested to know how other communities feel about the changes and found that not everyone is as pleased as I am. Complaints include the meals are too small, and some entrees are not well liked. I think the upside is that kids have options; they can load-up on fruits and/or veggies from the self-serve bar.

So it seems I’m a defender. I hope everyone can keep in mind that the program is new. It is entirely possible that feedback – both positive and negative will be reflected in the 2013/2014 program.

Have you noticed changes in your school’s lunch program? Would you like to share your observations? Please leave a sentence or two in the comment space. I’m very interested in the opinions of other parents…and kids.

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