Autumn Reflections with 2 Bonus Pumpkin Recipes

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

Today’s post is going to be a bit different than most of my other posts. Mainly because I feel like all I ever post is information and no one has any idea who the woman behind the blog is. So I am going to start aiming to post at minimum one personal post a month so that you can get to know who I am! Because come on, who really wants to learn from someone they don’t know? I may not really know a darn thing about any of this. (I promise that’s not the case, just being real about the risks of learning online.) So for today, I’m gonna give you a quick run down on who I am and then give you two of my favorite fall recipes!

Who I Am

I am a mom of 7 angels. I am a mom of 4 earth side babies and I have a 5th that is somewhere in between who I hope will join us earth side in the next 8 weeks. I am a woman who has suffered loss. I am a woman who was ignored by her healthcare providers. Belittled. Downplayed. Discounted. Overlooked. Underestimated. Bullied. Told I didn’t know my body. That I didn’t know what I was doing. That I was endangering my baby by making sure I was heard.

I am a woman who is fed up with our western healthcare system. I want to give women the resources to take back their feminine power and take back control over their own bodies!

But more specifically, my name is Traci Houston. I am married to the love of my life, Sam, and you will occasionally see him referenced. We live in Terre Haute, IN with our kids, a border collie named Tir, a ball python named Marvin, 2 betta fish (Mystic and Meredith), and 2 algae eaters (Rick & Morty). We have 4 girls (10, 10, 7 and almost 3) and one boy (5) with girl #5 due somewhere around Thanksgiving/Christmas.

I love to read historical romance novels, listen to a wide array of music from Native Traditional to Country to Rock to Rap to Gospel, love to cook/bake (especially in the Fall!), and I also love to draw/paint. I actually spent 2 years as a freelance artist, showcasing my paintings at festivals around our state. When our family grew much larger (we added 3 kids in one year once Sam and I got married), I put down the paint brushes and went to work at our local welfare office. Now that things have calmed down again, we have decided that it is time for me to step down from that position and go back to what makes my heart soar: babies, pregnancy, birth, and all things natural! (So be on the lookout for many changes in the next month as we work through that transition!)

What Fall Means To Me

Fall has quickly become one of my favorite seasons. (The other being Spring, but that’s an entirely different post!) The cooling of the temperatures combined with the gorgeous displays of multi-colored leaves. The feeling of things winding down and getting ready to go into that deep sleep of winter. You can physically feel the energy changing in the fall.

Autumn represents the preservation of life and its basic necessities. During this time, animals prepare for the winter by storing food and creating cozy hibernation spaces. Farmers work on their fall harvest by collecting a reserve of crops. We also tend to retreat indoors and focus on cultivating a safe and comforting home. In a way, the autumn season offers us a chance to reconnect with ourselves as we preserve our safe havens.

Fall brings a feeling of needing to prepare. We tend to focus on our health by boosting our immunity through habits and nutrition. Ultimately, autumn doubles as practice for heightened awareness of your self and surroundings. Creating a serene and snug space is one of the best perks of autumn. It also gives you a chance to learn about what makes you feel warm and safe.

For me, I tend to apply all of these things to my life overall. I take a hard look at what worked for me the past three seasons and what didn’t. For example, COVID happened this year. And I was not prepared for that. (Not that I think anyone was, truly!) So security has been something that has been shaky for me all year long. Fall is a time where I can create more security for myself and my family. I store as many of the vegetables from my garden as I can. I stock up on things from the store in bulk (such as canned goods) or get the things I need to make my own (such as making as much pumpkin puree as I can – recipe below).

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

How does Autumn affect our health? Well, as we start to wind down from the incessant go go go of summer, we begin to start checking in with ourselves more. How do I feel right now? Am I coming down with a cold? What can I do to boost my immunity? How can I take back control of my health?

These are all great questions and should be looked at year round, but I know that I am super guilty of putting it off until I “have time” to deal with it. But that is a two edged sword, as I found out this year. I kept putting of diet changes that I knew I needed to make and that caused me to be officially diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. It caused a lot of eye-opening conversations with my midwife and partner about the effects my diet could have on my child. It brought out the mamma bear in me for sure because I don’t ever want my children to have to struggle with this. And so I started looking into the various different ways to help circumvent them having issues. And do you know the NUMBER ONE way that I found to do so: Switching to a whole food diet.

One of the things that Fall/Autumn means to me is a change in the foods I eat. Seasonal eating has been shown to not only diversify the nutrients that we receive, but also to be better for the environment. (This will become a separate blog post in the coming months, but I wanted to touch on it here as I am talking about changing seasons.) During the summer, we tend to eat a lot of cooler foods throughout the day and then (depending on how high the outside temperatures are) eat a hot meal for dinner. In the Fall, I tend to switch the family to warm/hot meals for every meal of the day. And definitely make more use of seasonal produce such as tomatoes, pumpkins, apples, etc. Below, you will find two of my favorite fall recipes!

My Two Favorite Fall Recipes

Pumpkin Puree

I store pumpkin puree in my freezer in 2 cup quantities. You can determine how to store your own based on your uses for it. I mainly use mine in pumpkin pie, and as you will see from the next recipe, it uses 2 cups of puree per pie.

Besides pie, you can also use it in pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin dip, pumpkin bars, etc. Anything that calls for pumpkin! I even have an acquaintance who uses it to make homemade dog food!

Directions

  1. Select some pie pumpkins. I tend to use 3 at a time, but it really depends on how many will fit on your baking sheet/in your oven.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half. With a spoon or a scoop, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the center. Place all the seeds into a bowl (you can roast them later or store them in the fridge for a few days to use later). Repeat until all the pumpkin pieces are largely free of seeds and pulp.
  3. Place pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet (face up or face down; I’ve done both) and roast in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until pumpkin is fork-tender. They should be nice and light golden brown when done.
  4. Peel off the skin from the pumpkin pieces until you have a big pile of the stuff. If you have a food processor, throw in a few chunks at a time. A blender will work, too, if you add a little water. Or you can simply mash it up with a potato masher, or move it through a potato ricer, or process it through a food mill. (I use a blender and for 3 smallish pumpkins, I used about 9ozs of water total.)
  5. Pulse the pumpkin until smooth. If it looks too dry, add in a few tablespoons of water during the pulsing to give it the needed moisture. (Note, if the puree is overly watery, you should strain it on cheesecloth or over a fine mesh strainer to get rid of some of the liquid.)
  6. Dump the pureed goodness into a bowl, and continue pureeing until all the pumpkin is done. 
  7. You can either use this immediately in whatever pumpkin recipe you’d like or you can store it in the freezer for later use. To store in the freezer, spoon your desired amount of pumpkin into each plastic storage bag. Seal the bag with just a tiny bit of an opening remaining, then use your hands to flatten out the pumpkin inside the bag and push out the air. Store them in the freezer until you need them. Can be stored for up to 12 months.

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

2 cups mashed, cooked pumpkin

1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)

2 large eggs, beaten

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

Store bought crust of your choice (We like 10″ graham cracker crust!)

Directions

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Step 2 – In a large bowl, beat all filling ingredients with an electric mixer or immersion blender. Mix well.

Step 3 – Pour into a prepared crust.

Step 4 – Bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean.

Step 5 – Let cool and enjoy!!!

Tell me below, do you eat your pumpkin pie with or without whipped cream? And if with, can you see the pie underneath it or do you smother it??? I definitely coat the whole top of my piece with whipped cream!

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