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Classic Pumpkin Soup

As I sit here, my apartment is uncomfortably chilled, I have a steaming cup of tea by my side, and a raw cranberry bar nuzzled up next to it. All signs are pointing to the holidays.

How did this happen? Just the other day, it was August- with swelteringly heat and bountiful farmer’s markets, long days, and hand-in-hand weekend adventures through New York City. Now, I dodge from building to building, need to dwell in my car prior to take off, and glumly swallow the fact that the sun disappears at 4:30 pm.

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If you’re succumbing to a bit of winter trepidation, like me, maybe this Classic Pumpkin Soup will nudge a smile across your face.

That up there is a beautiful Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, named for its similarity to a wheel of cheese. Isn’t it a showstopper? It looks like it should be on display, wreathed with colorful fall foliage and candles. It might seem to be too picturesque to eat…but don’t let that stop you. Get out your biggest knife and saw this baby open. According to my research, (and my taste-testing, of course) Long Island Cheese Pumpkins have moist, sugary flesh which works well in pies or soups. So when I spotted a crate of nude-skinned pumpkins sitting all coy at the last farmer’s market of 2015, I knew what I had to do.

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Now, don’t fear if you can’t find yourself a cheese pumpkin. Although I haven’t tried this soup with other kinds of pumpkin, I suspect sugar pumpkins would be a good substitute. Alternatively, a combination of roasted butternut squash and canned pumpkin might also work well, as I found the taste of the cheese pumpkin to mirror the two.

The soup is very simple to make. First, roasted the pumpkins until a fork sinks through the flesh like butter. Then, saute onion, carrots, and herbs in olive oil.

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Then, puree everything in your blender with some broth, and bam: hot, delicious soup ready to ease away sniffles and comfort you after a long workday. I’ve been having it for dinner with Pineapple Fried Rice from Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World. Seemingly strange, but actually a a spot-on combo. This soup would also be an excellent first-course to an elaborate, decadent meal, one that is perhaps coming up this week?šŸ˜‰

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I hope that you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving bursting with love and laughter.

Classic Pumpkin Soup

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 1 Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, cut in half and seeded (see note)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp herbes de provence
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp Better than Bouillon or white miso paste, optional
  • 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste, and a pinch for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray the inside of the pumpkin with oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the flesh. Spray the baking sheet with oil, and place the cut side of the pumpkin facedown on the sheet. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a fork goes very easily through the flesh.
  2. While the pumpkin is baking, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a medium sautƩ pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, carrots, herbes de provence, and thyme. Sautee for 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Set aside.
  3. When the pumpkin is done, let it cool for a few minutes. Then, scoop half the flesh into a blender (see note). Also, and this is very important, pour in the sweet juices that remain on the baking sheet. Then, add the sauteed vegetables, broth, Better than Bouillon, and salt into the blender. Puree on high for 3-4 minutes, or until smooth.
  4. Feast on! A crusty piece of garlic bread would be a welcome companion.

Notes: 1) If you can’t find a cheese pumpkin, I suggest buying a sugar pumpkin. If you go that route, use the entire sugar pumpkin, instead of half, in step 3. Sugar pumpkins are smaller than cheese pumpkins. Alternatively, you may have luck roasting a butternut squash and using canned pumpkin. Try using half a butternut squash and a can of pumpkin puree. 2) I have quite a large blender. It is 64oz. If you have a smaller blender, you may want to puree half at a time. In addition, if you do not have a Vitamix or Blendtec, you may need to blend the soup for a longer time to achieve desired smoothness.

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Vegan MoFo: Pumpkin Chai Brownies

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And so it goes. Today is the last day of Vegan MoFo. This month of posting has been fun, tiring, and inspirational. Did I mention tiring? I honestly cannot wait to just veg on my couch for a week like a loser after I press publish on this baby. I have done 15 blog posts (which means 15 new recipes) and a slew of Instagram pics this year. (Check out my IG, if you haven’t had a peep) The prompts this year stretched me out of my comfort zone and set my mind percolating on innovative recipes I may not have otherwise tried. Like this one!

Everyone’s made brownies before. But not everyone’s made Pumpkin Chai Brownies before (or at least, you would think that until you google ‘pumpkin chai brownies’ -_- ). Today’s prompt, “Fusion challenge!” gave me the inspiration for this recipe. It is a fragrant melange of two of my favorite cuisines: Indian + Autumnal American (I’m not a big fan of winter, summer, or spring American. If there even are such things) Chai masala is holding down the Indian side, and pumpkin brownies are holding down the Autumnal American.

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The chai spice powder that I used is made from a recipe in Vegan Richa’s cookbook, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. It is a blend of green cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and ground ginger. I have included a link to a recipe she posts on her blog, in case you’d like to make some, too! Of course, if you have a pre-made chai powder laying around, feel free to use that. If you say “Wait, Maggie, I really don’t have that many spices in my pantry”, I would suggest using 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp ground cardamom. Yes, yes, cardamom can be hard to find, but it really is what gives chai its unique taste.

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Here are all the ingredientsĀ (minus plant milk) lined up and ready to be brownie-fied.

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I spread a sleek chocolate glaze over top for some extra pizazz. These cakey beauties are plush, moist, and zippy. Try them with a steaming mug of coffee or tea to warm up on a chilly evening. I think that with their nutritional profile (whole-grain, not too high in fat, and fortified with pumpkin) you can even get away with having them as a midday snackšŸ™‚

Pumpkin Chai Brownies

Adapted from Oh She Glows

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp plant milk
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp chai spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Glaze: 2 tbsp chocolate chips + 1/2 tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix pumpkin, sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Sift in the spelt flour, cornstarch, cocoa, chai spice, salt, and baking soda. Mix until combined.
  2. Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish. Spread mixture into dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.
  3. To make glaze, heat chocolate chips and oil for 30 seconds in microwave. Stir. Repeat until a smooth glaze forms. Spread over brownies.

Vegan MoFo: Magorade (Homemade Citrus Sports Drink)

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Today’s Vegan MoFo theme is: “What would you bring on a vegan road trip?” I thought I would put my own spin on it and frame it in the context of half-marathon training. Running is, after all, a “road trip”. Hardy har har.

I’ve seen recipes for homemade sports drinks popping up around the blogosphere, but was never super interested in them when not training. Also, the past few halfs I did, I would just fuel along the way with GUs, and whip up a protein smoothie upon returning. Thus, the time was ripe for me to change up my routine and test out some other training nutrition boosts.

Enter: Magorade. A rather silly name I made up for my homemade version of Gatorade. (To be fair, Gatorade’s a pretty silly name, too).

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This is fast and simple to make. You only need four ingredients: orange juice, coconut water, lemon juice, and salt. The orange juice and coconut water will rehydrate you and provide you with some simple carbs for fuel (if taken during the run) or for repair (if taken after the run). The lemon juice adds a nice tart flavor, and the salt will make up for that which seeps out of you as you sweat. Coconut water also contains potassium and magnesium, which are electrolytes that you lose through sweat, as well.

Drinking a glass of Magorade while on a run or post-run is a simple, natural, and cheap alternative to buying packs of Gatorade. And, it seriously tastes like citrus Gatorade. Woot, woot!

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Magorade (Homemade Citrus Sports Drink)

Adapted from Fannetastic Food

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • juice from one medium lemon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Mix everything together in a bowl or a large glass. Divide into two glasses. Cheers to natural hydration!