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Homemade Pumpkin Puree and Amazing Pumpkin Bars

Tis the season for pumpkin everything! However, before you pick up that can of pumpkin puree, maybe it’s the year to make your own! I know that the canned stuff may seem simpler but really, making your own is not hard, you get way more bang for your buck, and it tastes WAY better! So how do you do it?


Homemade Pumpkin Puree


                1 Pie Pumpkin (That’s it!)


                Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stab pumpkin 7-8 times with sharp knife all over the skins surface. Place whole pumpkin on glass dish is the oven and let cook for an hour. Once cooked, cut in half and let cool. Once cooled, remove seeds (reserve for roasting) and scoop flesh into a bowl. Puree using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender. Store in mason jar until ready to use. Pumpkin puree also freezes and thaws well for later use.

Once you have that delicious homemade pumpkin puree, I always make these delicious pumpkin bars. The thing about this recipe is that it only seems to work with the real homemade stuff; canned pumpkin does not result in nearly the same delicious flavor and texture.

Amazing Pumpkin Bars


                2/3 cup of coconut flour (available at most health food stores)

                ½ tsp Sea Salt

                1 tsp Baking soda

                1 tsp Cinnamon

                8 Eggs

                2 cups Fresh Pureed Pumpkin

                2/3 cup of Honey (raw) or Maple Syrup (Grade B) -or a combination of the two

                ½ cup Coconut Oil, melted

                1 cups Chocolate Chips


                Mix together coconut flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add eggs, pumpkin, honey/maple syrup, and melted coconut oil and mix until well blended (I use my immersion blender for this). Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into a 9x13 greased baking dish. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until cooked through. Cool, serve, enjoy! This is a crowd favorite but also freezes well and can be made into muffins instead of bars (just lessen cooking time to 15-20 minutes).


Adapted from this recipe:


Author: Joelle Kurczodyna, NTP

Beef and Veggie Crockpot Chili

This fall, soups and chili have been staples for us. They are a great way to sneak in tons of extra veggies and are a super nourishing, comfort food that everyone loves. Plus they make great leftovers! This recipe is especially convenient because if using grass fed beef, you can just throw it right into the crock pot thawed or frozen and it cooks beautifully.  The vegetables and spices are very flexible in this recipe.  Mushrooms, squash, or sweet potatoes are great additions. If you like it spicy, add more spices or jalapeno.  If you are serving a crowd or want more leftovers, doubling this recipe is the way to go!

veggie chili

Beef and Veggie Crockpot Chili

Serves: 4


                1 pound grass fed ground beef

                1-15 oz can of tomato sauce

                1-15 oz can of diced tomatoes

                1-2 Green Peppers, chopped

                1-2 Onions, Chopped

                1-2 diced, zucchini

                4 Carrots

                1 Tbsp Chili Powder

                1 Tbsp Cumin

                1 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa

                ½ tsp Oregano

                ½ tsp Cinnamon

                Salt and Pepper to Taste




Mix beef, tomatoes, tomato sauce, veggies, and spices in crock pot. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4. Top with optional cheese and avocado.


Author: Joelle Kurczodyna, NTP

Fiesta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

It is finally starting to feel like fall and with it comes some of my favorite foods!  This is the only time of the year when beautiful orange winter squashes and sweet potatoes are in abundance.  We got our first round of sweet potatoes in our crop share basket this week so I wanted to try doing something different with them.  I love how versatile sweet potatoes.  Some of our favorite ways to eat them are mashed, as fries, cubed, hash browned, and baked.  However, I wanted to try something that would be more filling as an entree instead of just a side dish.  That's how these fiesta stuff sweet potatoes were born.  Maybe you can tell from the Italian Stuffed Pepper recipe, butstuffed sweet potatoes 002 a common meal at our house are stuffing whatever vegetable is in season with whatever meat you have and it is always surprisingly delicious.  Besides sweet potatoes and peppers, zucchini, acorn squash, and butternut squash are some of our favorite things to eat this way. 

On to the recipe.  This is very easy to prep ahead and reheat and depending on the type of meat and spices you use can be adapted to your family's style. 

Fiesta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 8 - 1/2 sweet potato portions

Serves: 4-8


  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 diced onion
  • Spinach or other green
  • Seasonings to taste (for a Mexican flair, I used chili powder, garlic, and little cumin)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Avocado and cilantro (as a topping)

What to do:

Bake sweet potatoes at 400 for 1 hr.  While potatoes are cooking, brown ground beef and add onion once beef is almost cooked through.  Add in desired spices and greens until the greens are cooked down and the taste is to your liking.  Once the sweet potatoes are done, slice in half length wise and using a fork push the flesh of the sweet potato down as much as you can.  Scoop a healthy amount of the beef mixture onto the sweet potato.  Return to oven (or reheat later) at 350 for 10 minutes.  Top with avocado and cilantro when serving.

Three Days Worth of Nutritious Meals in 2 Hours

One of the most common questions that I get is, how is it possible to actually eat only real, unprocessed foods, in the midst of the busyness of life? My response is that it takes preparation! It is very possible to eat real food without it feeling like it is taking over your life but it does take some time to figure out a routine that will work for you and your family and it definitely takes planning ahead.

My typical week involves grocery shopping once per week and two days (usually Saturday or Sunday and Wednesday) spent preparing food to have meals ready for the next 3 or so days for two people. That way, besides those concentrated times where I am in the kitchen, I do not feel like a slave to the kitchen the rest of the week or dread it being the end of the day and not knowing what we will have for dinner.

batch cookin 001

Here is what went down in that two hour cooking session this past weekend.

What I made:

What will this give us?

The egg casserole yields 6 healthy servings so this is our breakfast for 3 days. We will have 2-3 meals out of the soup for dinners or easy lunches packed in thermoses. The extra veggies and sausages will make out the rest of our meals and can be heated up simply as is or used in stir fry’s or curries to provide some variation but still quick meals.

What I did:

I begin by preheating the oven and prepping my veggies for the egg casserole. I toss this together and throw it in to bake at 350 for 40 minutes. While the egg casserole is cooking I get the soup going. I already had shredded chicken and broth from dinner the night before (a great thing to make in the crock pot the night before food prep to have on hand!) Instead of roasting the veggies like she suggests in the recipe link, I simply throw them in the stock pot with the broth and let them cook in there.

Now we have the egg casserole in the oven with about 15 minutes left and soup simmering on the stove. Next I prep veggies that I want for the week. On one baking sheet I did cubed butternut squash, on another other I roasted a mixture of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and onions. The egg casserole timer dings and I take that out. Bump the temperature up to 425 to roast the vegetables and throw both pans of veggies in at 425 and set the timer for 30 minutes.

The egg casserole is done and cooling, the soup is simmering on the stove and the veggies are in the oven. All that’s left is the Italian sausages. I quickly mix the ingredients together for those and cook them on a cast iron pan. The sausages are finishing just as the veggies are beeping. The veggies aren’t quite done yet so I set the timer for five more minutes and take the sausages off of the pan. Next the veggies come out and begin cooling. This gives me a chance to get back to the simmering soup. Per the recipe, some of veggies in the soup are pureed while the others are left whole so I use a ladle to scoop a 4-5 ladles worth of soup into the blender and blend until pureed. I throw the puree back in with the rest of the soup and add the spinach until the spinach is wilted and everything is blended together.

OK! You did it! This is the final stage now that everything is cooked and just needs to be packaged up for easy meals. I slice the egg casserole into 6 pieces and place into separate containers for easy to heat up meals in the morning. I put the sausage in one container to simply grab and reheat as needed. I put the roasted veggies in a few containers depending on what I have on hand (sometimes individual containers are nice to be throw into quick lunches to go). The soup gets stored in a big glass bowl in the fridge for easy stove top reheating.

Whew! Did I mention that this was also a good workout? You are so close at this point, just the clean up remains. Maybe you can recruit a willing child or spouse to help you out with this part but in my experience, it’s best to just tackle it right away to get that full feeling of accomplishment, instead of letting it wait for later and get harder to clean.

Now you can relax in knowing that you have several nutritious meals packaged up and ready to go for the next few days! Now you can get a few extra minutes of precious sleep in the morning and you will certainly avoid the fast food line at dinner!


Article by: Joelle Kurczodyna, NTP

Healthy Game Day Snack Option: Eggplant Pizzas

Fall is coming and football season is now in full swing. Along with it comes the desire for fried chicken wings, pizza, and an abundance of chips.   Instead of turning to these processed, fake foods that will leave you feeling lethargic Monday morning, these Egg Plant Pizza’s are a great real food alternative that will satisfy the junk food craving in the football fans in our lives, without leaving the unpleasant side avocado brownies and egg plant pizza 019effects.

Mini Egg Plant Pizza’s


  • 1 whole egg plant (the wider the better for a bigger “crust”)
  • Pizza sauce (homemade of look for one with only real food ingredients and no sugar)
  • Cheese, preferably raw and organic (we LOVED the smoked cheddar on the ones pictured)
  • Optional toppings (uncured pepperoni, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, etc)


Slice egg plant into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices. Lay slices in a single layer on top of paper towels. Sprinkle eggplant slices generously with sea salt and let sit for 30-60 minutes. This step is VERY important to remove moisture from your eggplant, otherwise they will be soggy. After 30-60 minutes, blot egg plant with towels to remove excess water. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Once cooked, top egg plant slices with pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings as desired.   Place under broiler for 5-10 minutes. Check every couple of minutes to avoid burning. Enjoy!


Article by: Joelle Kurczodyna, NTP

Healthy Food Prep Tip for the Week: Make a Giant Salad!

Giant SaladI must admit, that while I try my best to eat healthy, one of the hardest obstacles is having food prepped and ready to go. Oftentimes I find that I have about 45 seconds left to pack a lunch in the morning before work. Other days, my husband gets home from work after his long commute, and is famished when dinner is not quite ready. Having a ready made option in the fridge during times like these is a lifesaver!

I find that our healthy diet stays on track so much better when I have at least 1 bulk made dish prepped and ready to go to supplement the other food that we eat!

Last week, this item was… The Giant Salad!!

Ingredients for Salad

2 Large Heads of Romaine Lettuce (washed, dried, chopped)

2 Large Avocados (diced)

5 Slices of farm fresh bacon (cooked and diced)

Chicken (I used the leftover shredded meat from a half chicken that we cooked the day before)

2-3 Tomatoes (diced)

4 Hard Boiled Eggs (peeled and diced)


Ingredients for dressing (Homemade Honeymustard)

1/4 Cup Apple Cider or White Vinegar (I used champagne vinegar) or juice from a lemon or lime

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard

2 Teaspoons Honey

1 Teaspoon minced garlic

Salt and Pepper to Taste

All I did was prep and chop all of the ingredients, and toss them in the largest glass bowl that I own. I love the large bowl from this set that is 4.5 quarts and has a lid.  I use this separate container to make and mix my salad dressing so that the salad doesn’t get soggy. That way I can add as much as I’d like when I am ready to have some salad. Making my own salad dressing allows me to avoid the unhealthy processed ingredients in most store bought dressings. The dressing container that I linked to even has the recipe and fill lines for honey mustard and a few other dressings right on the side of the container.

The possibilities for a salad like this are endless! You can try different forms of protein (steak would be delicious!). If you want to add some crunch, try adding whatever nuts you like. Some other vegetable options are zucchini, cucumber, olives, sweet peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, etc. You can mix up the greens by trying spinach, kale, or other leafy greens. If you don’t do well with cheese or eggs simply leave these ingredients out and add some others! The proportions listed above were simply what I did, but use whatever you have and whatever you like! The beauty of something like this is that you really can’t screw it up, and you can make it different every time you make it!

Good luck, be creative, and enjoy!