Forget the canned stuff, learn how to make your own homemade pumpkin purée from scratch. It takes just one simple ingredient and less than an hour to make!
The recent pumpkin spice-everything craze has made it hard to ignore the rows and rows of canned pumpkin that pop up on grocery store shelves once summer starts coming to a close. I’ll be the first to admit that I love pumpkin so much I’ve been known to stock up on it right after the holidays to get me through the better part of a year.
But what if you could easily make your own and store it in the freezer to have ready to go at a moment’s notice? It’s easier than you think, and today I’m going to tell you all about it!
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Since I’ve become a mom, having some pumpkin purée on hand has become even more important as I love using it as a way of sneaking some extra nutrients into my little one’s diet. It’s super easy to mix into baked goods like pancakes, donuts, muffins and breads to up the healthiness factor. Not only does pumpkin have loads of Vitamin A, it’s also rich in antioxidants and can boost immunity – and it’s tasty to boot!
Pumpkin’s sweeter flavor is often appreciated by tiny eaters so if you have kids, take advantage of it and add some pumpkin to their diet. I’ll give you some great recipe ideas below.
What You Need to Make Pumpkin Purée
Perhaps the most exciting thing about making your own pumpkin purée (besides having it on hand to use whenever you want) is that you need next to nothing to make it. We’re talking one ingredient and a couple of common kitchen appliances/utensils. That’s my kind of recipe!
Here’s what you’re going to want to gather up before you start cooking:
A baking pumpkin
A knife and cutting board
A jelly roll pan
A food processor
That’s it! Well, you’re also going to need an oven, but I’m hoping you’ve already got one of those on hand 😉
How to Make It
The first step in making the perfect homemade pumpkin purée is to cook your pumpkin. To make the process go a bit faster, you’ll go ahead and cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and wrap each half in aluminum foil to really seal in some steam from the oven.
After just 30 minutes baking away (and a little bit of cooling time) your cooked pumpkin will be scooped into the food processor – sans skin – and puréed until smooth. I mean, could it be any simpler?? No oil, no butter, no liquid, no nothing. Just good ol’ pumpkin to make all your fall baking dreams come true.
How to Use Homemade Pumpkin Purée
Oh let me count the ways! There are so many great uses for homemade pumpkin purée. Here are just a few ideas:
Get the easy recipe for homemade pumpkin purée below. For more pumpkin inspiration, be sure to check out my Fall Foodie Ideas board on Pinterest (so many delicious recipes I’m dying to try) or sign up for my weekly newsletter where I’ll be sending out all the fun fall content in the coming weeks!
1baking pumpkinMay also be called a Sugar Pie pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut the pumpkin in half horizontally and scoop out all the seeds.
Tear two pieces of aluminum foil that are each large enough to wrap around one half of the pumpkin. Wrap each pumpkin half, sealing the aluminum foil as much as possible.
Place wrapped pumpkin halves on the jelly roll pan.
Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes, or until you can easily squeeze the pumpkin halves with tongs. You want the pumpkin to be soft enough that you can scoop it out of the skin.
Let pumpkin halves cool for at least 10 minutes, or until they are cool enough to touch.
Scoop the inside of the pumpkin into the food processor, discard the skin and foil.
Turn the food processor on and process until smooth.
Purée can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Use as a substitute in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.
Many toddlers are picky when it comes to eating meat, even if they’re not on a vegetarian diet. Here is an ultimate roundup of high-protein vegetarian recipes for toddlers, featuring quinoa, beans and lentils as primary ingredients.
When it comes to toddlers’ picky eating habits, one of the food groups I hear most about is meat. Meat can be tricky – it needs to be prepared a certain way that makes it easy for little ones to eat, and the texture can sometimes be offputting. While it’s important to continually expose your child to animal proteins (if your toddler isn’t on a vegetarian diet), there are tons of other ways to ensure your babe is getting this vital nutrient.
Here’s a roundup of 28 fantastic high-protein vegetarian recipes for toddlers, broken down by meal. Seriously, though, there is so much inspiration here! And if you want more tips on how to deal with a picky eater, check out these 9 Easy Ways to Combat Picky Eating in Toddlers.
What toddler doesn’t love dip?? Here are three nutritious dip recipes that are easy to whip up for your little one at a moment’s notice.
If there’s one thing I can count on to get my toddler excited about eating, it’s offering her something delicious (and yes, messy) to dip her food into. I mean, what toddler doesn’t immediately spot (and demand) the bottle of ketchup on the table whenever you go out to eat? Or beg for the side of ranch dressing that comes with your salad?
Why not capitalize on it by making some of your own delicious dips that are not only tasty, but loaded with nutrients?
The three nutritious dip recipes I’m sharing with you today are just that. They’re all super easy to make, and don’t require any crazy ingredients.
If you’re struggling to get your toddler to eat certain things, dipping can be a great way to up the novelty and get him or her into the adventurous spirit. That’s why, for each dip recipe, I’ve also included ideas for “dippers”.
Finally, I encourage you to get your toddler into the kitchen to make these dips with you. The steps are all fairly simple, and while you always want to be careful around hot stoves and knives, getting your toddler involved will make them all the more excited to eat something when it’s served at a meal.
And for more toddler cooking inspiration, head on over to my Toddler Food board on Pinterest 🙂
Let’s get cooking!
Black Bean Dip
Hummus is a popular standby, but as far as bean dips go, why not mix it up by using alternate types of beans? This Black Bean Dip has some Mexican flair with cumin and fresh lime juice, and comes together quickly in the food processor with no cooking required.
Some great “dipper” ideas for Black Bean Dip include:
Tortilla chips (if your toddler can eat them without choking)
Forget hummus, this black bean dip is going to be your new favorite condiment. With hints of cumin and lime, it's the perfect accompaniment to any sort of Mexican food.
Course: Side Dish, Snack
Keyword: black beans, condiment, dip, healthy, Mexican, toddler
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
115-ounce canblack beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2tablespoonsfresh lime juice
Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.
Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.
This popular Greek condiment is the perfect way to introduce some new flavors into your toddler’s diet. Fresh dill, grated cucumber and garlic are all adventurous, but become a bit more approachable when mixed into yogurt, which most toddlers are pretty familiar with.
Some great “dipper” ideas for Tzatziki include:
Pita chips (if your child can eat them without choking)
1Persian cucumber, grated and water squeezed out with a paper towel
1teaspoonchopped fresh dill
Whisk together ingredients in a small mixing bowl until combined.
Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.
It’s not just for pasta! Marinara is also great for dipping. It’s also loaded with nutrients from tomatoes, and you can even easily sneak in some other veggies if you’re feeling adventurous. An added bonus? Marinara freezes well, so make a big batch on the weekend and freeze it up in ice cube trays or small food storage containers for quick and easy defrosting at a moment’s notice!
Here are the 10 best recipes featuring pomegranate syrup or grenadine – just in time for peak pomegranate season. There’s a little something for everyone, whether you’re a bartender, barista, baker or chef.
It’s hard to believe that we’re already at the tail-end of summer and heading into fall. While we’ve likely all seen Halloween costumes on store shelves and debates on how soon is TOO soon to bring back the pumpkin spice latte over the past couple of weeks, there’s a lot more to get excited about this time of year – like all of the amazing fall produce!
One of my favorite fall fruits is tart and tangy pomegranate, not only for its great flavor, but because it can be used in so many different ways. It can be used for savory cooking or sweet treats, cocktails or mocktails. It can even be used for your favorite coffee, tea or espresso drink! Pomegranate comes in many different forms – like seeds, juice, molasses and syrup – so its flexibility in the kitchen should come as no surprise.
You know I’ve been a huge fan of Sonoma Syrup Co.’s products for quite some time, and this time of year I can’t help but move their Pomegranate Simple Syrup and Grenadine to the front of my pantry. They’re the perfect products to have on hand as we ease into fall, whether I’m whipping up a salad featuring my favorite seasonal fruits and veggies or mixing up a cocktail.
To celebrate one of fall’s star players, I’ve rounded up 10 of my favorite recipes using pomegranate syrup or grenadine, including ways to adapt existing recipes to use these time-saving ingredients.
While usually rife with citrus, margaritas get a colorful (and tasty!) seasonal touch with the addition of pomegranate simple syrup. It’s the perfect way to sweeten up a typically tangy drink while also adding depth of flavor. When making a special margarita like this one, be sure you use high-quality tequila. This will not only elevate the taste even more, but also prevent you from getting a nasty hangover the next day. Look for tequilas that state “100% de agave” on the bottle, as that assures that there have not been any other weird added sweeteners that will leave you regretting the drink in the morning.
Dress up your Pomegranate Margarita by adding a few pomegranate arils to the glass (you can find the arils in the produce section of most grocery stores) or by rimming the glass with sugar studded with lime zest. For an extra hit of pomegranate flavor, you could even use the pomegranate syrup to get your lime-studded sugar to stick. The possibilities are endless, and the flavor is to-die-for. This is a great drink to start enjoying now and continue serving well into the holidays, because who doesn’t love a festive, bright red cocktail come December?
Of course, we couldn’t do a roundup on pomegranate syrup/grenadine without including the classic nonalcoholic drink (and favorite of children everywhere) – the Shirley Temple! This is such a simple drink to make, and a fun treat for kiddos on a special occasion. As in this recipe from Bon Appetít, it’s classically made with grenadine, ginger ale, and garnished with a maraschino cherry. However, modern-day recipes have also been known to include such innovative ingredients as lemon-lime soda, lemonade or even orange juice.
I love that this kid-friendly mocktail can be easily elevated with the use of a good ginger ale or ginger beer and Sonoma Syrup’s Classic Grenadine Syrup. Using high-quality products like these cuts back on processed ingredients – which you know I’m a huge fan of – and should also minimize the crazy sugar rush kids our kids so easily succumb to.
Your little ones (and mocktail-enjoying friends) will love this fancy take on the classic at your next get-together or dinner party.
You read that right – pomegranate syrup can also be used in cooking! And what better way to do so than with a zesty red wine vinaigrette from the kitchens of one of the most well-known wineries in Wine Country? This tasty salad recipe hails from the kitchens of Domaine Chandon in world-famous Napa Valley and pairs the winery’s light and juicy Pinot Noir with Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Pomegranate Simple Syrup to create a perfectly balanced vinaigrette. When drizzled over a bed of greens topped with grapes, pecans and pomegranate seeds, you’ll get the ultimate taste of Wine Country in your very own home.
This vinaigrette would also make a great marinade for filets or roast duck or – who are we kidding? – served alongside a loaf of freshly baked bread for dipping.
This Southern Sweet Iced Tea is another great use for pomegranate syrup that doesn’t involve alcohol. Use the base recipe as your guide as far as amounts, then choose your favorite herbal tea to perfectly complement the pomegranate flavor. It’s a no-fail recipe that’s perfect to sip on while the sunlight still lingers past 6 o’clock.
To really step things up a notch, garnish your iced tea with a fresh sprig of whichever type of herbal tea you’ve used in your recipe – fresh mint, chamomile and rooibos are all tasty options.
The Kir Royale is a French cocktail typically made with sparkling wine and créme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), but why not give it a modern makeover by subbing in grenadine? I love any kind of cocktail that involves sparkling because it turns any occasion into a special one, especially this time of year when there are tons of things to celebrate!
Try a drier style of sparkling wine for this one, as the grenadine will sweeten it up a bit. Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig or some extra pomegranate arils to make your Kir Royale especially appropriate for the season.
Of course, no pomegranate syrup recipe roundup would be complete without a way to use it in a sweet treat! Make your own pomegranate soda by adding Sonoma Syrup Co.’s pomegranate syrup to sparkling water or club soda, then just add vanilla ice cream to turn it into a tasty float. With the syrup’s pure ingredients, making your own soda helps you cut back on not-so-healthy stuff that often goes into store-bought pops and control just how sweet you want it to be.
This is another one that the kids will love. It’s the perfect treat for back-to-school or a weekend get-together with friends while the weather is still warm.
No doubt by now you’ve heard of this latest frozen drink craze, but did you know you can make frosé extra-tasty with the addition of some brightly hued grenadine? It not only adds a great pop of color to an already gorgeous drink, but it also lends an extra depth of flavor that plain old rosé just can’t give you.
This recipe adds in strawberries for extra body, but you could also try raspberries or watermelon for a slightly different take on things. This is another one to make now while the weather is still warm – the perfect drink to enjoy poolside!
Alright, chefs – here’s another one for you! This Pomegranate Peppercorn Glaze is the perfect way to dress up pork tenderloins, steaks, or even grilled salmon. It’s versatile enough to use as a marinade AND a sauce on its own, or add it to your favorite cream-based sauce for the ultimate hybrid. Toss the creamy version with your favorite pasta for a hearty vegetarian dish, or use the glaze as-is to dress up roasted sweet potatoes. The possibilities are endless!
One of the best things about grenadine is that it pairs well with so many different types of liquor. These French Quarter Cocktails pair the syrup with rum in a New Orleans-inspired drink that’s sure to make you feel festive. I mean, how can you not with two different types of rum, pineapple and orange juice? It’s practically Mardi Gras in a glass.
Garnish these fun cocktails with maraschino cherries, pineapple wedges and orange slices. Get extravagant with it, because that’s exactly what these drinks are meant to be.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper pomegranate syrup roundup without me putting my own spin on a pomegranate cocktail. The Moscow Mule is one of my absolute favorite adult beverages, so when I saw this recipe from DELISH, I knew I wanted to use some of Sonoma Syrup Co.’s flavored simple syrups to give this pomegranate cocktail my own personal touch.
One of the greatest things about naturally sweetened simple syrups infused with fantastic flavor is that you can easily cut down on the prep time and number of ingredients needed and still have something fantastic to sip on in minutes flat. By using Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Pomegranate Simple Syrup and Sweetened Lime Juice in this recipe, I was able to leave out the honey and still get the exact same flavor profile. Just as with every Moscow Mule, high-quality vodka and ginger beer are key in taking the drink over the top.
In your copper mug or cocktail glass, stir together the vodka, pomegranate syrup, lime juice and ice.
Top with ginger beer and garnish with pomegranate arils and rosemary sprig.
You can find the original recipe from DELISH here.
So there you have it! I hope my top 10 recipes using pomegranate syrup and grenadine inspire you to get in the kitchen and get you excited for the months ahead. I’d love to hear if you have any favorite pomegranate syrup or grenadine recipes I missed. If you do, let me know about them in the comments below!
A “food segue” is a great way to get your picky toddler used to foods and flavors that he or she won’t normally eat. Here’s your step-by-step guide for how to do it!
I hear it all the time from all you mamas out there, “I wish I could get my toddler to eat [fill in the blank]!” One- to three-year-olds are notoriously picky eaters, and getting them to eat certain foods can be a never-ending battle. After all, this is the age when they start to realize (and assert) their own independence, and testing the limits is a huge part of that. Luckily, there are certain things you can do to minimize the struggle and, yes, get your toddler to eat foods that he or she has turned his or her nose up at in the past.
If you’re curious about some of the other tips I’ve shared in regards to feeding toddlers, be sure to check out my past posts on the best ways to introduce NEW foods and things NOT to say, but today I’m going to tell you about one super-effective method for working those historically unfavored foods into your little one’s diet, and that’s with a food segue! Using this method, you’ll start with a food your toddler already really enjoys, and work just a little bit of whatever new food you want to get your toddler used to into it. Then, you’ll slowly increase the amount of the new food – using a couple of different meal preparations – until eventually your toddler is eating the new food on its own without batting an eye.
Don’t worry, I’m going to get to a couple of examples in just a minute, but before that, there are a few things you’ll want to remember.
Things to Remember with Food Segueing
It’s a slow process.
It’s not all going to happen overnight. It may take days, weeks, or months to get your toddler to eat the new food. The idea is to slowly work it in, and only move onto the next step once you’ve succeeded with whatever step you’re on.
You’re going to need to be creative.
Toddlers love novelty, so the more creative you get with your segue, the more successful you’ll be. You’ll need to put on your thinking cap to serve the new food in dishes that are not only already well-liked, but also lend themselves well to whatever the new food is. More on this in the examples, but if you’re ever stuck with how to segue something, feel free to drop me a line!
Consider any other factors at play – and don’t get frustrated!
When working on a food segue, it’s important to remember that other factors can play a part in your toddler’s eating success. If you’re introducing a food segue dish, it’s helpful to also observe things like how tired your toddler is, if they’re teething, perhaps not feeling well or having a bad day. If any of these factors are limiting your toddler’s success, try the same segue again another day.
How to Do a Food Segue
Let’s talk about how a food segue is done. I think the easiest way to show you how is with examples, so that’s what I’ve got for you. I’ve got two examples for you (only one example with photos) but I’m going to show them to you side-by-side so you get the idea of how you can segue with two very different foods. Because most mamas express trouble getting their toddlers to eat (1) vegetables or (2) protein, we’re going to talk about segueing into carrots and turkey, respectively.
Okay, so your goal is to get your toddler to eat carrots. First, you’ll want to think of something that he or she already loves that you could mix a small amount of carrots into that your little one will hardly be able to taste. Let’s say an orange-carrot smoothie. If your babe drinks the smoothie down no problem, you’re ready to move on to Step 2. If not, wait a few days and try again.
For turkey, let’s say your toddler already LOVES pasta with red sauce. A great first step here would be mixing a small amount of ground turkey into the red sauce.
For the next step in the segue, you’re going to want to make the same smoothie, just up the amount of carrots involved. This will impart more of the carrot-y taste on your toddler’s palate, but will be a bit easier on them since they’re already used to (and enjoying) the way you’re serving it. Just as in Step 1, if your little downs this without a problem, move on to Step 2. If not, try again in a few days.
For the turkey, you’ll want to once again serve the pasta with red sauce, but simply increase the amount of ground meat in the sauce.
Time to move onto a new preparation! Hopefully, by now your toddler has gotten a little more used to the taste of carrots. Since we blended carrots into a smoothie for the last two steps, let’s try mixing carrots into something in their more natural form. I know most toddlers love grilled cheese, so let’s make the next preparation a grilled cheese with some shredded carrots mixed into the shredded cheese. This is great because carrots and cheddar cheese are the same color. Also, the cheese and the carrots are prepared in the same way – shredded – which will make them more easily blend together. As always, keep trying this preparation every few days until you see some success. And feel free to mix in some Orange-Carrot Smoothies on the days in between!
With the turkey example, a great next step would be serving pasta with diced tomatoes and ground turkey (rather than the tomato and turkey mixed together in a sauce). This gets your toddler used to seeing the ground turkey on its own while still having all of the same flavors as the first two preparations.
Now that your kiddo is hooked on grilled cheese and carrot sandwiches, the next step would be to take the cheese and carrot combo OUT of the sandwich, and just serve grated carrots covered in melted cheese.
Enough with the ground turkey already, time to move onto sliced turkey breast. BUT we’re still going to keep some similar flavors and – instead of serving the turkey with pasta and red sauce – we’re going to serve it with ketchup to dip it in! Because what kid doesn’t like ketchup? Or dip?!
Okay, time to move on from the cheesy stuff. The next step would be to serve the grated carrots with an alternative dip or topping, like ranch dressing or hummus. Use your judgment as to what your kiddo will like best.
As far as the turkey goes, it’s time to see if your toddler is ready for the full segue and serve turkey breast on its own!
(OPTIONAL) STEP 6
Chances are, if you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably already pretty happy with the strides your toddler has taken in learning to like a new food. But if you want to take it even further with the carrots, the next step would be serving them as sticks with the same ranch dressing.
Most food segues won’t take more than five or six steps, but of course, there may be instances where you’ll be fine with fewer or need to add a few more – use your best judgment!
Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget about a food you’ve segued once you’ve gotten your child to eat it. Keep exposing him or her fairly regularly, so he or she doesn’t forget all of these new taste associations.And keep experimenting! Your child may surprise you with what they’ll eat if you keep exposing him or her to new things.
And if you’d like even more tips on how to deal with a toddler who’s a picky eater, be sure you grab my free download with sooooo many more tips and tricks!