I’ve signed up for National Blog Posting Month which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013. Is this crazy? Possibly, but I love a challenge.

I mentioned this homemade mint extract recipe a while ago on my Facebook page but I figured I should share it here, as well, since not everyone who reads my blog is a follower over there. This simple mint extract was inspired by this recipe on Nourished Kitchen.

Homemade Mint Extract | Healthy Green Kitchen

I made a batch of this mint extract over the summer, but I am going to make some more while I still have the mint to give as gifts (we recently had our first frost and while most of my plants bit the dust, my mint and some other herbs are still going strong). You should make some, too: all you need to make homemade mint extract is fresh mint and rum (or bourbon or vodka)! And if mint extract doesn’t excite you, you can make vanilla extract instead (here’s a post from Simply Recipes which describes how to do that).

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Last night, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to sign up for National Blog Posting Month (aka NaBloPoMo). NaBloPoMo is an annual blogging event that takes place each November: participants commit to posting on their blogs each day of the month. This means you’ll be hearing from me more frequently over the next four weeks…I hope that’s ok with you :)

To keep my goal of posting every day in November an attainable one, my posts will most likely be shorter than usual. There will be recipes, of course, but not every day…some days may just be brief musings on topics related to general health or nutrition. I have a few giveaways planned, too :)

Today, I have an easy, tasty recipe for candied pumpkin seeds for you.

Candied Pumpkin Seeds | Healthy Green Kitchen

I made this recipe with the seeds I took out of the pumpkin I used to bake this Pumpkin Stuffed with Cheese, Sausage, and Pasta. Whenever you “play with” pumpkins, you always end up with a sloppy mess of pumpkin seeds, right? Don’t dump them in the compost (or worse yet, the garbage)…use them to make a healthy snack instead! (I am being more conscious about my food waste than ever these days, since I am participating in this program.

Seeds (and nuts and grains and some other foods) naturally contain something called enzyme inhibitors. To increase the amount of nutrients available to your body when you eat these foods (and to make them more digestible), it’s good to give them “a good soaking”. This is why I recommend soaking your pumpkin seeds in salted water before roasting them (doing this also simplifies removing all of the pulp that may stick to the seeds upon removal from the pumpkin).

These fiber and zinc-rich goodies are perfect for topping salads and side dishes. They are also wonderful eaten on their own.

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Macaroni and cheese is comfort food at its best…who doesn’t love it? It’s not something I make very often (translation: I never make it) so I was excited when Stephanie asked me if I’d like to review the brand new book she co-wrote with Garrett. It’s called Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.

book photo 2

From the first moment I opened the book, I knew it was a winner. Melt is a beautifully photographed celebration of artisanal cheeses, and it’s filled with numerous unique ideas for how to pair these cheeses with pasta (but not just pasta: some of the recipes in the book don’t involve pasta at all). The writing is fun and engaging.

It did not take me long to decide which recipe from the book I wanted to share on my blog. The Pumpkin Stuffed with Pasta, Fontina and Italian Sausage Macaroni on page 128 was too much of a stunner to pass up! I’ve now made it three times since I received the book.

book photo 1_

Sugar pumpkins are incredibly nutritious and make a lovely receptacle for this delectable dish. I actually doubled the recipe for the mac and cheese (and only baked 1/2 in the pumpkin) because I wanted to have plenty of leftovers to send with my kids to school for lunch. I love Fontina and was excited to use it, but I had a little trouble finding Gruyère: I substituted Provolone and it worked out great.

pumpkin mac_text

Stephanie and Garrett say this is a flexible creation and suggest different ways you can tailor it to work with what you have on hand (see the recipe below for more details). I opted not to use macaroni: I made this with organic Conchiglie produced from a company called Montebello (a brand imported from Italy that I buy it at my local natural food store). The other changes I made are noted below in parentheses.

If you decide to buy the book (come on…do it!), be sure to enter the Melt Le Crueset Giveaway! Stephanie has the info about it over on her blog.
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