Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone! I’m not a Halloween kind of person actually. But when your kids are so excited about a school Halloween party, does a parent really have a choice but to go along with it? My ex got them scary costumes, and I – reluctantly – agreed to help with the “best curved pumpkin contest” bit. There were a couple of obstacles though.

First, we couldn’t find any Halloween-like orange pumpkins. We drove around town knocking on different veggie shops and supermarkets – but nobody had any, not even for display. Seriously? I mean, come on veggie shops! Where is your holiday spirit? So our only choices were (1) Japanese pumpkins (too ugly and bumpy, what with green and brown patches on the outside), (2) Kent (smooth skin, but boring beige colour, and they were too huge anyway), or (3) butternut squashes. The choice was kind of obvious. Butternuts were cute, came in just the right size for the kids, and had a smooth orange-y skin. First problem solved!

Second, I had no idea how to curve a pumpkin. I’ve never done it or seen it done before. But then – Youtube to the rescue! After watching three random pumpkin-curving tutorials, I felt confident enough to give it a go.

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The best part was seeing the kids super excited and engaged! Even I got into the activity and enjoyed it a lot. I helped quite a bit with sharp knives and linoleum curving chisels (which I conveniently had in my craft supplies). But my six-year old grabbed a chisel at some point and started curving on his own – and he was surprisingly careful. I should just trust my kids more.

pumpkin curving for halloween

Even my ADHD daughter stuck with the activity for two whole hours.

pumpkin curving for halloween

And how cute are these pumpkins when lit up at night?

roasted pumpkin bits

Here are the pumpkin shreds that got scooped out. After the kids went to bed, I roasted them with a bit of olive oil. They were so sweet and tasty, I ate nearly a quarter of them straight out of the oven with a spoon. The rest, I pureed in a food processor and….

sourdough pumpkin bread

Made them into pumpkin sourdough bread and scrolls the next day. Mmmm. I am loving the 100% whole rye flour and wholemeal spelt flour combination. I also threw in some almond and soy pulp from making milk.

pumpkin seeds roasted

I saved all the seeds, too. Roasted till crunchy, they make nutritious, tasty – and free! – snack. I’ll be enjoying these healthy and nutritious jack-o-lantern offcuts today, while my kids will no doubt be eating too many of those supermarket candies at the party tonight. But so it goes!

 

Pumpkin Soup Bread

One of the first bad news I learned after my diagnosis was that bread is bad for you if you have diabetes. I loved bread – baking and eating – so this was devastating news. I vividly remember the first endocrinologist I saw bluntly telling me: “they say wholemeal bread is better for you, but bread is bread, and they are all bad.” I might have imagined her sporting devil’s horns on her head at that moment.

After dutifully avoiding bread (along with other carbohyrdrate-rich food, like rice and pasta) for nearly two years though, I came to doubt my carb-avoiding regime. I’ll do another blog post later, but I began to read books on naturally healing type 2 diabetes, not by avoiding all carbohydrates, but by consuming good carbs – wholegrain, low-GI carbs – as part of your daily diet. Here’s one such person who advocates this diet. Here’s another. Many Japanese books on natural healing advocates eating brown rice every day as well.

So I began to eat bread as an occasional treat these days. I still won’t touch white bread, but homemade sourdough bread, featuring low-GI whole grains like spelt and rye seem okay to me. I use homemade sourdough starter for my bread (I used the method in this wonderful book), so it takes 24 hours or more to make one loaf of bread – but oh they are so worth it.

One of the best things about making your own bread (whether you use sourdough starter or not) is that you can incorporate a lot of different things in it – nuts, seeds, almond or soy pulp from making almond/soy milk, veggie pulp from juicing, etc. And it’s super cheap to make. Forget that $10 loaf of sourdough bread from artisan bakeries (as good as they are). I buy my organic flours in bulk here.

Last night I had a big jug of leftover pumpkin soup that my kids refused to eat for dinner (so heartbreaking. It was such lovely soup…). What do I do with it? I’m not a big fan of sweet soups, either…. And then I had a lightbulb moment: make bread with it of course!

leftover pumpkin soup

I used pumpkin soup in lieu of water when mixing up the bread dough. It worked beautifully. The bread was moist and subtly sweet, but not overwhelmingly pumpkiny. In fact you won’t even know there’s pumpkin in it. With all the brown flour I used, you can’t even see the pumpkin yellow colour. Oh how I’m happy I didn’t waste all that soup!

pumpkin bread with soup

Heres’ my indulgent breakfast this morning. Fresh-baked toast – with green smoothie. Yum.

pumpkin bread for breakfast

Here’s the recipe for you if you’d like to give it a try. The measurements are not precise, so you can play around with it. If you don’t have a sourdough starter, no problem. Just go without and use the rest of the ingredients. If you don’t have a stand mixer, no problem as well, just use a big bowl and mix everything and knead with your hands. A bit more messy, but not hard at all.

pumpkin bread with soup
pumpkin bread with soup

Pumpkin Soup Bread (Vegan, Low GI, Oil-Free)

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September 14, 2016

  • Yields: One loaf

Ingredients

3/4 cup sourdough starter (optional)

2 cup wholemeal spelt flour

2 cup wholemeal rye flour

1 tsp instant yeast

1-2 cup pumpkin (or other) soup

some water, to adjust consistecy

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp chopped rosemary (optional)

1 handful of pepitas (optional)

Directions

1Mix all the dry ingredients together in a stand mixer bowl.

2Turn the mixer on at low speed. Add about 1 cup of pumpkin soup, and then Gradually add more liquid (more soup, or if run out, use water) until you get a fairly wet dough. The dough should stick to your hands if you touch it. But don't get too fussed about it! As long as all the dry stuff is wet, and the dough isn't all gathered around the dough hook, it'll work fine.

3Keep mixing for about 5 minutes. Rye flour doesn't have much gluten, so it's not important to knead it for a long time.

4Remove the dough hook, and use your wet hand to smooth out the dough. Cover the bowl with a saucepan lid or wet towel. Leave it on your kitchen counter for 12-24 hours - until the dough doubles in size, approximately.

5Line a loaf pan with parchment paper - this way it'll be easy to get the bread out when it's baked.

6Sprinkle a good 1/2 cup of flour onto your kitchen counter, and tip the soft, risen dough onto it gently. You don't want to "punch" the dough down!

7Cut the dough in three equal portions. Using flour on your hands so the dough won't stick, *gently* shape each portion into a rough ball. Resist the urge to mix in more flour into the dough. Soft dough makes tasty bread. Squeeze those dough balls into the lined loaf pan, cover with a wet tea towel, and leave it to proof on your kitchen counter for 1-3 hours, until it puffs up.

8Preheat the oven at about 200 degree Celsius. It takes about 15 minutes for an oven to heat up.

9Brush to top of the bread with a bit of milk or oil, and sprinkle some pepitas on top if you like.

10Once the oven is hot, and your bread dough looks puffed and ready, gently put it in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, and when the top of the bread looks golden, take it out.

11Gently take the bread out of the loaf pan. Remove the parchment paper, and check the bottom of the loaf. If it looks crisp, brown, and sounds hollow when tapped, it's done. But if not, put it on a baking tray (no need to put it back into the loaf pan), and bake for another 10-15 minutes. It's hard to be precise because every oven is different. When the bottom of the bread is crisp, your bread is ready.

12Leave the loaf to cool on a wired wrack for about an hour before slicing and eating (I know it's hard).

This recipe is very flexible, so please don't be afraid to experiment! If you have only a bit of pumpkin soup left, that's not a problem. Use water for the rest of the liquid content. I had a LOT of soup left over, so I used pretty much all-soup for the liquid bit. Homemade bread is very forgiving, so it's hard to get it to fail!

The only thing that's important here is: (1) use whole grains, and (2) use only a small amount of yeast, and let it ferment slowly for 24 hours or so. Wholemeal flours need that kind of time to open up in flavour and develop. It'll be easier to digest and better for your sugar level (which is my understanding). In hot summer, you might want to put the dough in your fridge overnight and let it ferment in there, instead of a kitchen counter.

Oh one more things: This bread is vegan only because the pumpkin soup I used is vegan. If you used non-vegan ingredients in your soup, naturally the bread isn't vegan.

 

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