How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Purée

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!

Homemade pumpkin puree in a glass dish surrounded by a black spoon, black and white checked napkin and a small bowl of ground cinnamon.

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.

An overhead shot of a glass bowl of pumpkin puree surrounded by a black and white checked napkin, a spoon, cinnamon sticks and a bowl of ground cinnamon.

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
Aluminum foil
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.

An overhead shot of homemade pumpkin puree in a food processor.

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:

In some super-simple muffins

In a twist on Shepherd’s Pie

In an adults-only latté

In a healthy smoothie

Or a cozy coffee cake

To add some extra sweetness to marinara sauce

Or in ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls.

Even in a spicy curry!

The possibilities are endless.

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!

Homemade Pumpkin Purée
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

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!

Course: Condiment, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baking, condiment, fall, homemade, pumpkin
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 12 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 baking pumpkin May also be called a Sugar Pie pumpkin
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Cut the pumpkin in half horizontally and scoop out all the seeds.

  3. 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.

  4. Place wrapped pumpkin halves on the jelly roll pan.

  5. 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.

  6. Let pumpkin halves cool for at least 10 minutes, or until they are cool enough to touch.

  7. Scoop the inside of the pumpkin into the food processor, discard the skin and foil.

  8. Turn the food processor on and process until smooth.

Recipe Notes

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.

3 Easy and Nutritious Dip Recipes Your Toddler Will Love

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.

Title graphic for 3 Easy and Nutritious Dip Recipes Your Toddler Will Love.

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

A jar of black bean dip with a spoon alongside it.

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:

  • Jicama
  • Tortillas
  • Pita bread
  • Tortilla chips (if your toddler can eat them without choking)
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Radish
  • Chicken strips
  • Shrimp
Black Bean Dip
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

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
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: black beans, condiment, dip, healthy, Mexican, toddler
Servings: 4 toddlers
Calories: 178 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

  2. Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.

Tzatziki

A dish of homemade tzatziki with a spoon sitting next to it.

 

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 bread
  • Pita chips (if your child can eat them without choking)
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Tortillas
  • Pretzels (watch for choking)
  • Grilled chicken
  • Thinly sliced beef or lamb
  • Gyro
  • Crackers
Tzatziki
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

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.

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: condiment, dip, healthy, Mediterranean, toddler, tzatziki, yogurt
Servings: 4 toddlers
Calories: 35 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Persian cucumber, grated and water squeezed out with a paper towel
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Whisk together ingredients in a small mixing bowl until combined.

  2. Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.

Marinara

A jar of homemade marinara sauce with a spoon next to it.

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!

Great “dippers” for Marinara include:

  • Garlic bread
  • Breadsticks
  • Cheesy bread
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Pizza
  • Chicken strips
  • Sliders
  • Sausage
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Roasted cauliflower
Marinara
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

It’s not just for pasta! Marinara is also great for dipping and loaded with nutrients.

Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: condiment, dip, freezer-friendly, healthy, hot sauce, Italian, pasta, toddler, tomatoes
Servings: 10 toddlers
Calories: 26 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Bring all ingredients to a gentle simmer in a saucepan on the stove.

  2. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

  3. Keep refrigerated or freeze for future use.

And that’s not it! I have a ton more nutritious dip inspiration here on the blog. Be sure to check out my recipes for hummus, guacamole, and peanut sauce the next time you’re looking for inspiration.

I’d love to hear if you have any nutritious dip standby’s you like to serve your little one. Let me know in the comments below!

Miso Furikake Hummus for Next-Level Snacking

This Miso Furikake Hummus takes your hummus snack game to the next level. Umami-rich miso takes the place of traditional tahini and furikake – the favorite Japanese seasoning – is sprinkled on top to give your hummus a flavor like you’ve never tasted before.

A bowl of Miso Furikake Hummus surrounded by fresh vegetables.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love being inspired for new recipes and flavor combinations by all my travels. While I’m most often inspired to make a travel-inspired dish AFTER I get home from a trip, today I’m sharing something I came up with recently while anxiously anticipating our vacation to Kauai next week. This Miso Furikake Hummus is pretty life-changing, so why don’t you pull up a seat and we’ll talk about it.

It’s no secret that homemade hummus is one of my favorite things to make. As long as you own a food processor or high-powered blender, it’s so easy to make! There are tons of recipes for it here on the blog, including this Mango Sriracha Hummus, this Pumpkin Curry Hummus, this Portobello Hummus and this Roasted Cauliflower Hummus with Rosemary and Garlic.

But today I’m stepping outside of the box even more than I’ve done in the past, and bringing you a Pacific island-inspired version with this umami-rich version featuring miso and furikake.

A close-up shot of Miso Furikake Hummus surrounded by fresh vegetables.

In case you’re not too familiar with either of these tasty Asian ingredients, here’s a quick run-down:

What is Miso??

Miso is a Japanese paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt. It’s considered a probiotic because of its live, active cultures, which means it not only tastes delish but is also great for your tummy! If you’ve ever ordered soup as a starter at a sushi restaurant, you’ve most likely already been exposed to the flavor of miso.

What is Furikake??

Furikake is a Japanese seasoning mix made of dried seaweed, dried fish, sesame seeds and other spices. It’s most often sprinkled on top of rice, but I also love adding it to grilled salmon or on top of avocado toast. I’ve even been known to add it to popcorn or high-quality butter from time to time.

Where Do I Buy Miso and Furikake?

Miso has become fairly mainstream, so you should find it at any “health food” store like Sprouts or Whole Foods.

Furikake is not quite so mainstream yet, but the good news is that it’s shelf-stable and lasts a fairly long time, so you can stock up the next time you find yourself at an Asian market or just order yourself some on Amazon [affiliate link].

How to Make Miso Furikake Hummus

When you combine miso and furikake in a creamy dish like hummus, the results are out of this world. The process is pretty easy, too.

Did I mention there are only six ingredients?

Simply add garbanzo beans, miso paste, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil to a food processor or high-powered blender and process until smooth.

Once that’s done, scoop the hummus out into your serving vessel and sprinkle on a generous dose of furikake. Can it get any easier than that?

A bowl of Miso Furikake Hummus nestled into a bamboo steamer surrounded by fresh vegetables.

This Miso Furikake Hummus is best enjoyed within the first day or two of making it, so be sure to have some fresh-cut veggies and taro chips at the ready [affiliate link].

Do you have a favorite recipe featuring miso or furikake? I’d love for you to let me know in the comments below!

Miso Furikake Hummus
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

This Miso Furikake Hummus takes your hummus snack game to the next level. Umami-rich miso takes the place of traditional tahini and furikake - the favorite Japanese seasoning - is sprinkled on top to give your hummus a flavor like you’ve never tasted before.

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Keyword: appetizer, Asian, furikake, Hawaiian, healthy, hummus, miso, side dish, snack
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 139 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons furikake
  • Fresh vegetables, to serve
  • Taro chips, to serve
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except furikake, vegetables and chips in a food processor or high-powered blender. Process until smooth with no chunks remaining.

  2. Transfer hummus to serving bowl and top with furikake. Serve with fresh vegetables and taro chips.

Recipe Notes

DISH DENSITY: Low

Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Elixir

This Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Elixir is a healthy mocktail that’s just as refreshing as it is good for you. Pineapple juice, ginger beer, turmeric and fresh lime combine to make a tasty drink that’s perfect for summer!

Two glasses of Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Elixir surrounded by limes.

You’re going to want to listen up, because this combination of pineapple juice, ginger beer, turmeric and lime is going to knock your socks off – while being good for you to boot!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of turmeric. I have a similar boozy turmeric drink involving many of the same ingredients as this non-alcoholic one, and I’ve also shared my favorite vegan ice cream made from turmeric and coconut milk. When the hubs and I are feeling a little extra soreness from our gym workouts, we throw a dash or two into our daily Power Protein Smoothie because of turmeric’s great anti-inflammatory properties.

When it comes to the health benefits of this Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Elixir, there’s truly no shortage. And the great thing is that many of the ingredients’ health benefits overlap with one another, which means this drink packs a powerful punch on the superfood front.

Let’s go over the benefits one by one.

Health Benefits of Pineapple

Sure, pineapple is everyone’s favorite tropical fruit, but did you know it also has many great health benefits? Here are just a few:

It contains antioxidants.
It can help with digestion.
It can boost immunity.
It can help suppress inflammation,
It can speed recovery (from surgery or strenuous exercise).

[You can read more about all of these health benefits here.]

As you’ll see as we continue on with some of the other ingredients, there is a lot of overlap!

An overhead shot of a glass of tasty Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Elixir, surrounded by ice cubes and fresh ginger root.

Let’s talk about turmeric.

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is part of the ginger family, so it makes sense that it has some great health benefits. You most likely know it for the bright orange color it adds to golden milk, curry, etc. but you should also know what it can do for you health-wise:

It has anti-inflammatory effects.
It increases the antioxidant capacity of the body.
It improves brain function.
It can help prevent (and treat) cancer.
It may help with depression.

[You can read more about all of these health benefits here.]

We’ve already covered almost everything, but of course, I have to mention our favorite health benefits of ginger.

Health Benefits of Ginger

As I mentioned, ginger is closely related to turmeric, so they share many of the same properties. But ginger also has some special benefits of its own.

It can help combat nausea.
It can reduce pain and soreness.
It may drastically lower blood sugars.
It can help treat chronic indigestion.
It can lower cholesterol levels.

[You can read more about all of these health benefits here.]

A glass of Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Elixir with another glass behind, surrounded by fresh ginger and lime slices.

All of these powerhouse ingredients are perfectly balanced in this tasty drink. If you ask me, it’s the perfect drink to sip on if you’re suffering the ill effects of a tough workout or a little too much partying the night before.

So, have I sold you yet? Is there any reason you shouldn’t enjoy this Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Elixir ASAP? I’d love to hear more about your favorite superfood mocktails in the comments below!

Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Elixir
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

This Pineapple Turmeric Ginger Elixir is a healthy mocktail that’s just as refreshing as it is good for you. Pineapple juice, ginger beer, turmeric and fresh lime combine to make a tasty drink that’s perfect for summer!

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: drinks, ginger, mocktail, nonalcoholic, pineapple, turmeric
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 64 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • Ice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 ounces pineapple juice (no sugar added if possible)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • Lime wheels or wedges for garnish
Instructions
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice, then add turmeric, pineapple juice and lime. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.

  2. Fill two rocks glasses with ice and strain contents of cocktail shaker evenly between the two.

  3. Top with ginger beer and garnish with lime wheels or wedges. 

Recipe Notes

DISH DENSITY: Low

My Go-To Meal Prep Hack: Instant Pot Shredded Chicken

Instant Pot shredded chicken is the ultimate meal prep recipe. It takes less than 30 minutes to make and is versatile enough to use in different dishes throughout the entire week.

The Easiest Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is perfect when combined with some whole grains and roasted vegetables in a bowl for a healthy meal.

I’m letting you in on a little secret today! That’s right, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes from my e-cookbook that will set you up for meal prep success throughout the entire week. This Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is sooooo easy and takes almost no ingredients to make. And because it’s so simple, you can dress it up in a multitude of ways – no repeat meals here!

The simplicity of this chicken also makes it a great first food for baby if you’re following baby-led weaning. You can easily control the sodium by simply not adding any salt and season it with whichever herbs and spices you have a hankering to introduce to your child on any given day.

How to Make It

Seriously guys, I can’t think of any recipe that is easier than this one. And for all my Dish Density fans, this is pretty much the LEAST amount of dishes you’ll find in any of my recipes. (ICYMI, I introduced the exciting Dish Density feature on this post last week.) That deserves a lot of celebration, am I right?

All you need to do to make this super simple recipe is throw all of the ingredients into the Instant Pot, turn it on and set a timer [*affiliate link]. That’s it! The real fun comes after the chicken is made, when you get to come up with how you’re going to use it all up.

Two hearty bowls of Easy Instant Pot Shredded Chicken loaded with vegetables and whole grains are the perfect healthy meal!

But don’t worry, I have some ideas for you!

  • Throw it on top of a seasonal salad.
  • Use it as part of a filling for enchiladas.
  • Make tacos.
  • Stir it into a soup.
  • Put together a simple protein, veggie and grain bowl and top with your favorite healthy dressing.
  • Pile it on top of a bun with some BBQ sauce for tasty sliders.

These ideas right here are enough for almost an entire week’s worth of dinners, but I’d love to hear if I missed any creative uses you can think of!

The other great thing about this Instant Pot Shredded Chicken is you can totally freeze it! So make it some evening or weekend where you have a 30-minute block of time, and pop it in the freezer for a go-to weeknight meal in the very near future.

If you can totally get down with the freezer meal idea (I mean, what busy parent can’t?), be sure to check out my e-cookbook for 29 more freezer-friendly recipes!

A bowl of the Easiest Instant Pot Shredded Chicken complete with veggies. A great option for baby-led weaning!

Easiest Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Instant Pot shredded chicken is the ultimate meal prep recipe. It takes less than 30 minutes to make
and is versatile enough to use in different dishes throughout the entire week.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baby-led weaning, chicken, Instant Pot, meal prep
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 121 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound each boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs (2 pounds total)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
Dishes needed:
  • Instant Pot
  • 2 forks
  • Tongs
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in an Instant Pot. Make sure the valve is set to sealing. Hit the “Pressure Cook” button and select High pressure for 10 minutes.

  2. The Instant Pot will take a while to warm up, then it will
    start counting down. Once the timer is done, make sure the valve has switched
    to vent to release all the pressure.

  3. Once all the pressure has been released and the chicken has
    cooled slightly, use two forks to shred it. After shredding, pour out any
    excess liquid.

  4. Once shredded chicken has cooled completely, place in a
    resealable glass container or plastic bag and freeze. You can also separate the
    chicken into individual portions before freezing if desired.

Recipe Notes

DISH DENSITY: Low