As the leaves start to change color and cheery pumpkins show up on doorsteps, summer seems like a distant memory and we're smack-dab in the middle of fall. And while pumpkin spice-flavored treats make their appearance just about, well, everywhere, do you even know what it contains? Here's what it is and why you should make it at home. (Hint: It's as easy as it gets!)

Guess What? There's No Pumpkin in Pumpkin Spice!

For years, I thought pumpkin pie spice actually had pumpkin in it. Silly me. How on earth would you get pumpkin in there? Dehydrate and powder it? In any case, pumpkin pie spice is simply a blend of the traditional spices that go into a good ol' fashioned pumpkin pie.

What's in Pumpkin Pie Spice?

If you go the store-bought route, pumpkin pie spice blends can vary by manufacturer, but typically contain the more sweet-smelling spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger. Allspice and mace are also common ingredients.

Why Should I Make My Own?

Making your own spice blend costs less than buying a big jar of something pre-made, especially if you already have most of the spices. It's also better to make smaller batches so you use up the blend before it starts to go stale and loses its flavor. Finally, you can tinker the formula to what you like: Go for some extra cinnamon, or skip the cloves if you can't stand the flavor. Trust me, once you've made your own, you'll never want to buy a commercial blend again.

How Do I Use Pumpkin Pie Spice?

While you can use it to flavor your morning latte, pies, and other baked goods, you can also sprinkle it over hard squash and roast, spice up some whipped cream, or mix it into some yogurt or ice cream base — it's quite a versatile spice blend.


1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Measure: Measure out all ingredients in the order listed (to ensure you don't double up or leave one out) into a small bowl.
Mix: Whisk or stir to combine. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

Recipe and Image Credit:
Forget jars of red sauce — homemade marinara is where it's at. This tomato sauce takes 20 minutes to make and requires zero planning. If marinara doesn't already have a spot in your stable of easy weeknight recipes, it will soon. Here's a step-by-step look at how to make this super-simple sauce.

What Kind of Canned Tomatoes to Use?

Puréed tomatoes might feel like the obvious choice here, but I recommend using whole peeled tomatoes for your marinara sauce. These break down into perfect sauciness in about 20 minutes, but still retain a little substance, which gives the sauce some body — something sauces made with purée can lack. I've also used diced tomatoes, but find that these generally don't break down as easily or quickly; they're fine to use if you don't mind (or if you prefer!) a chunkier sauce.

Really, any canned tomatoes you have in your pantry can be used in a pinch, up to and including tomatoes that you've canned yourself. I'd only avoid tomatoes that have flavorings or herbs added to them — your sauce will be a hundred times better if you add these things yourself.

How to Use Homemade Marinara?

This marinara isn't just for pasta, although that's often its destination in my kitchen. You can also use this basic sauce for pasta casseroles like lasagna, to top homemade pizza, or to serve with roasted meat. You can even give it a quick purée and make a pretty darn good bowl of tomato soup!

The main takeaway here is that marinara is an easy, versatile sauce. With a few cans of tomatoes in your cupboard, you'll never need to buy jarred sauce again.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh thyme, basil, oregano, or other herbs
Parmesan cheese, to garnish, optional
Cooked pasta, to serve


Sauté the onions and garlic: Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Crush the tomatoes and add to the pan: Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan with the onions. Crush the tomatoes in your hand as you add them, or smash them against the sides of the pan with your spatula. Alternatively, you can cut the tomatoes with kitchen shears while they're still in the pan.

Add the bay leaf and fresh herbs: Add the bay leaf, salt, and fresh herbs like thyme and oregano to the pan with the sauce. If you're adding basil, wait to add it until the end of cooking.

Simmer for about 20 minutes: Bring the sauce to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue simmering until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta: While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta, toss together a salad, or finish any other meal components.

Serve the sauce: Remove the bay leaf and any herb stems. Serve the sauce immediately over pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for about a week or can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Recipe & Image Source:
Coming up with new recipes for the lunch box everyday can be quite daunting!

Here are some great ideas for kids lunch box. They are innovative and very easy to make.

Whether you’re vegan, following the Whole30, lactose intolerant, or just looking for new ingredients to experiment with, there’s a good chance that coconut milk has crossed your mind. While it used to get a bad rap for its high saturated fat content, recent studies assure us that the plant-based lipids in coconut milk aren’t so harmful to your heart after all—in fact, they may even help raise your good cholesterol levels. Pair that good news with the fact that it's freakin' delicious, versatile, and more readily available than ever, and there are plenty of reasons to incorporate more of it into your meals.

Here are 24 ways, from breakfast to dessert.


1. Easy Coconut Milk Oatmeal With Fruits

Coconut makes its way into this oatmeal-quinoa concoction in the form of milk, flakes, and sugar. Topped with berries and bananas, it’s perfect when you need a tropical vacation (in a bowl).

2. Cherry Coconut Chia Pudding Parfaits

Many chia puddings are made with almond milk, but this one goes for the coconutty stuff to give breakfast a bit more of those healthy fats. Layered with a lightly sweetened, super-easy cherry compote, it makes for a delicious, pretty-as-a-picture parfait.

3. Savory Bacon and Potato Pancakes

Bacon, eggs, and potatoes in pancake form? Sign us up. A cup and a half of coconut milk helps keep these flourless flapjacks fluffy, rich, and free of dairy.

4. Overnight Oats in Coconut Milk

Overnight oats may just be the most convenient breakfast ever. Soak the whole grains in a simple blend of coconut milk, vanilla, and honey, then add fruit and pistachios the next morning for some more fiber and fat.

5. Chocolate Chip Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa

Cooked in coconut milk instead of water, this quinoa is incredibly filling. Use blueberries to provide a juicy contrast to the warm bowl and throw in some chocolate chips… well, just because.

Main Dishes

6. Seared Salmon Pasta With Coconut Milk Chili Sauce

If you’re looking for something new to do with pasta, this recipe is an easy and healthy way to switch up your spaghetti game. Take a break from the Italian flavors and use coconut milk, Sriracha, and crushed peanuts to give the salmon and linguine some Thai-inspired touches.

7. Vegan Turmeric and Coconut Milk Vegetable Bowl

Turmeric is becoming increasingly popular in the healthy food world thanks to its high content of the antioxidant curcumin and its anti-inflammatory benefits. Add a teaspoon to the coconut milk in this recipe for an especially fragrant, veggie-packed stew.

8. Curried Pork Bowls

Cooked with vegetables in a coconut milk sauce made even richer with heart-healthy almond butter, this hearty yet carb-lite meal won’t leave you uncomfortably full.

9. Coconut Marinated Grilled Chicken

Chicken thighs are known to be juicier than breast meat thanks to their higher fat content. But soaked overnight in a bath of spiced coconut milk before getting thrown on the grill, they become even tastier.

10. 15-Minute Coconut Green Pasta

Throw this recipe together in less time than it would take for you to order in. Use a blender to whip coconut milk and spinach into a sauce that coats the spaghetti. Hidden veggies, a ton of protein, and gluten-free—you couldn’t ask for more in a healthy dinner!

11. Creamy Coconut Asparagus Risotto

Risottos often rely on heavy cream to get that velvety consistency, but this recipe opts for coconut milk for a smooth texture that won’t do a number on your cholesterol. It may take some time to make, but the end product is well worth the stirring—save it for date night or a fun weekend meal.

12. Baked Coconut-Crusted Tofu With Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Soak thick slabs of tofu in a marinade that swaps coconut milk for plain cow’s milk, then coat them in a wheat bran and coconut crust. Baked until crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, these golden cutlets make the perfect meat-free meal.

Soups and Sides

13. Coconut Pineapple Shrimp Skewers

Fiery tabasco, mild coconut milk, and fruit juices team up to make these shrimp and pineapple kebabs sweet, savory, and spicy. Serve them with a salad for a light meal or alongside some rice if you’re looking for something more filling.

14. Avocado Chicken Corn Chowder

With four avocados, an entire can of coconut milk, and plenty of protein from the chicken meat, you won’t miss dairy one bit in this chowder. With so much going on in each serving, a little goes a long way as a side—or you could just make it your main.

15. Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness. Make them even sweeter—and a lot more special—by throwing in some macadamia nuts and a can of coconut milk. Not only will the additions jazz up the pan of produce, but they’ll also provide a ton of healthy fat to make it a super-satisfying side.

16. Caramelized Cauliflower and Coconut Soup

In just an hour—half of which is hands-off baking time—turn five individual ingredients into one incredible vegan soup. Leave some of the cauliflower florets intact for a bit of texture or puree them entirely; either way, the soup will be silky and rich thanks to the coconut milk.

17. Greek Scalloped Potato Gratin

These scalloped potatoes are nowhere close to the gloppy spuds you find in most traditional versions of the dish. Coconut milk provides the creaminess, tangy kalamata olives brighten things up, and kale adds some much-needed color and superfood power.

18. Cilantro Lime Coconut Rice

Why serve plain rice when you can make this in the same amount of time with just three extra ingredients? Simply cooking the grains in coconut milk along with water makes a world of difference in taste. This may be a side, but it could become the the star of your meal.


19. Strawberry Vanilla Bean Raw Vegan Cheesecake

Even if you aren’t vegan or avoiding dairy, this no-bake cheesecake needs to be a part of your life. The coconut milk and cashew combination is surprisingly good at mimicking the consistency of regular cheesecake while providing much more fiber. Your taste buds and your stomach will be more than satisfied.

20. Dark Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chia pudding is usually boxed into the breakfast category, but half a cup of cocoa powder and two cups of coconut milk lend a dessert-appropriate air of indulgence (but also, extra antioxidants!) to this one. Chocoholics, go nuts.

21. No-Churn Vegan Mango Ice Cream

This blogger has the genius idea of freezing coconut milk and mango puree in muffin tins for automatic portion control. When an ice cream craving hits, just drop a few muffin tins’ worth into a food processor (no ice cream machine needed) and blend until the mixture is as smooth or chunky as you like.

22. Make-Ahead Dairy-Free Rice Pudding

Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, kissed with honey, and infused with vanilla, this rice pudding is as comforting as it gets. Coconut milk does double duty here as a thickening agent and flavor booster.

23. Chocolate Pistachio Mousse

In five minutes, transform three ingredients into one light and chocolaty mousse. Topped with chopped pistachios for a crunchy contrast, this one’s easy enough to make as an impromptu dessert but impressive enough to serve to friends.

24. Chili Chocolate Truffles

Date balls can be a fantastic healthy substitute for truffles, but sometimes you just need real chocolate. These fudgy morsels use a cup of the dark variety along with a touch of chili powder for the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth bites.

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