Who’s Ready For Pumpkin Fest?

My husband Joe and I have recently been spending a lot of time in the kitchen together. It’s been one of the positive offshoots from being quarantined for a few months. We sometimes like to make a themed meal and we recently had a dinner we called Pumpkin Fest! We do an “Asparagus Fest” every Spring where the entire menu contains asparagus and yes, I do have an Asparagus Bundt Cake recipe. So we thought, why not a Pumpkin Fest for Fall?

I pulled out a recipe that I haven’t made in awhile and I forgot how EASY and DELICIOUS this recipe is. I originally found this recipe on the Food In Jars website and it is definitely something I will be adding to the weeknight recipe rotation.

Curried Pumpkin Coconut Soup


  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (use your favorite)*
  • 2 pints pressure canned pumpkin (with their canning liquid)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • sea salt to taste

Combine onion and coconut oil in a small soup pot. Cook until onion softens and browns. Add curry powder and cook until it is fragrant.

Add pumpkin cubes, their canning liquid and the coconut milk. Stir to combine. Add up to one coconut milk can of water should it need a bit of thinning.

Bring to a bubble, reduce to a simmer and place a lid on the pot. Cook until onions are tender.

When soup is done, blitz it with an immersion blender. Taste and add salt as necessary.

Eat and enjoy.

*If you don’t have any home canned pumpkin, use 1-15 ounce can of commercial pumpkin and one can of water.

I have always just used commercial pumpkin from the grocery store and it worked great. 

*Curry can be a bit spicy for some, so use a smaller amount if you are not a huge fan of really spicy flavors. 

Pumpkin is also a nutritional powerhouse. 

Pumpkin contains

  • Alpha-carotene
  • Beta-carotene
  • High fiber
  • Low calories
  • Vitamin C and E
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Pantothenic Acid  

What else was on the Pumpkin Fest menu? Pumpkin Ravioli in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce, and of course Pumpkin Ice Cream for dessert!

Happy Pumpkin Fest!

Here’s The Skinny

Every year when my husband and I do our annual cleanse, I get asked a ton of questions about it. There are many types of cleanses and detoxes out there and it can be overwhelming. I think a lot of people also associate it with deprivation and sacrifice and assume that they will be miserable. I chose to do the Clean Program years ago (I actually think it might be ten years now!) and I chose it because you CAN eat. I wanted my husband to do it with me, and there is NO way he would be on board with a juice cleanse or The Master Cleanse

When I originally decided to do it, Clean Program had 2 versions:

Plan A was you drink a smoothie for breakfast, have a large lunch from the list of approved foods and then a smoothie or soup for dinner.

Plan B was that you had a smoothie for breakfast, and your other two meals from the list of foods that you are allowed to have. You can snack as much as you want as long as you are eating and drinking from the list of approved foods being mindful of portion size. It is also suggested to leave a 12 hour window between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the next day to give the organs of digestion a break.

We chose to do  Plan B where you could eat the two meals and we continue to do that every year. Clean program doesn’t really even promote this method anymore because they feel that Plan A is a better detox, and it probably is, but this works for us. And to be honest, we usually end up eating a lot of soup for dinner anyway, so we kind of are doing it the way they suggest. There is also a whole list of supplements that are recommended to support the process. 

Here is what a typical day looks like on Clean  (and sometimes even after Clean)
• Wake up and Tongue Scrape –first thing I do every morning after my meditation
• Brush teeth
• Celery juice
• Exercise /stretch/dance/move somehow, even if it’s just for 20 minutes
• 16 oz of room temperature water with lemon
• Dry brush 
• Shower and essential oil applications
• Green smoothie with Amazing Grass powder with frozen berries, chia seeds, collagen peptides, Amla powder, coconut water, aloe vera juice, dragon fruit, an apple, a handful of raw cashews, a few kale or dandelion leaves and a few ice cubes
• Cup of Kukicha tea with stevia – my favorite tea!
• Snack if I need it – raw nuts, lara bars or half of my afternoon smoothie.
• Lunch – salad from the list of foods you can have.
• Snack – Smoothie made with Orgain Organic Plant Protein powder,  almond milk, collagen peptides and I vary the fruit depending on my mood, but wild blueberries almost always make the cut
• “Cocktails” made with kombucha – My husband Joe has mastered our “Mocktails” before dinner with coconut water, kombucha, fresh mint, fresh lemon, a few pieces of pineapple or some berries. We kind of wing it each night and the tang from the kombucha satisfied my craving for a glass of wine. 
• Dinner – meal or soup from list of foods you can have – We ate a lot more soup for dinner than on previous cleanses. We didn’t feel as hungry this time for some reason. I made a giant pot of soup every Sunday that was perfect for evenings that I worked late.
• Water with lemon throughout the day
• Herbal tea after dinner, Tulsi Rose and Tulsi lavender are favorites, we also really love Golden Milk or Turmeric Tea in the evening
• There is a list of supplements that help the process that we take throughout the day
• Natural Calm before before bed
• Alternating detox Epsom salt baths, and Castor Oil Wraps through out the week

I also scoured through all of my healthy cookbooks before the cleanse even started searching for new recipes made from the foods we are able to eat. I made a giant list of possibilities and we tried some new recipes that were definitely keepers. The key to success I believe is being creative with the list of what you can have. As long as the the meals are tasty, you don’t feel like you are being deprived or you are missing out.

Looking forward to keeping the inspiration for clean eating going. I still have many new recipes to try from the list that I had made.Our goal is to be in the 80/20 range. Clean eating 80% of the time and indulging a bit more on the weekends the other 20% of the time. 

I’ve been asked why we do this every year and why January? Often detoxes and cleanses are associated with Spring. We do it after the holidays to reset our systems after all of the overeating and over enjoying the foods that we have to celebrate the holidays. I just can’t say no to a Christmas cookie. Taking all of the inflammatory and toxic things like sugar, alcohol, wheat, etc., out of your system results in not craving them anymore, increased energy and you drop the extra weight and bloating that may have occurred over the holiday season. Plus, our social calendar is light during January so we don’t feel like we are missing out on anything.

I would recommend reading the book Clean, if you are thinking about trying a cleanse. It’s very informative and helps you understand WHY you eliminate certain foods and why you add specific supplements. Clean Program sells kits that contain shake mixes, all of the supplements you would need, but you can also just get everything at Whole Foods, Amazon or where ever you do your shopping. You can also visit the Clean Program website where you can take a peek at the list of what you can eat and what you eliminate for the 21 days. There’s great recipes and all kinds of inspiration on the blog. As I mentioned you can also order products, but it’s not necessary, I find I’m able to find everything I need in the stores or on Amazon and save a great deal of money.

We felt so great after our cleanse this year that we have decided to do a one week cleanse every few months, perhaps as the seasons change just to keep the inspiration going. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes and if my husband will actually try to wiggle out of that commitment!

How to Reboot Your Healthy Living Mindset

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By Judy Moon and Associates Guest Blogger: Ali M. Shapiro, MS, CHHC

“The week before my period. For. Get. It. Chips. Chocolate. Fries! Working out? Blah. I know what I should do. But I don’t do it. I have no clue why.”

This confession—delivered in a tone weighed down by shame, sadness, and frustration—comes in the early weeks of my Truce with Food program. This participant (let’s call her Andrea) has been conditioned to expect more confusing nutrition facts, a detox, or to be prescribed yet another strict diet.

But what Andrea needs is not more information, she needs more understanding.

For veteran dieters like Andrea, the fall season feels like a second New Year. Another chance to get it right. And yet, lasting results? Elusive. Willpower? Most burn through reserves in two weeks. Rinse and repeat. But why?

One culprit: The same mindset of restriction and vigilance around food (that feeds the dieting-shame cycle) persists.

A good first step in stopping this cycle is to reboot your healthy living mindset. To do this requires a multi-pronged approach.

Here is a snapshot of how I guided Andrea (and what lessons you can draw). To frame this, I’ll borrow inspiration from another client who described me as the Swiss Army knife of wellness, “You’re like a nutritionist, trainer, and psychologist in one package!”

Nutritionist: Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy.

Many women believe PMS just comes with the territory. Nope. You can drastically lessen or eliminate “symptoms” when you learn to eat and exercise with your body’s rhythms.

Andrea was diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). What she thought she “should” eat was actually aggravating her condition.

One culprit: Luna bars. The soy protein isolate in these added excess estrogen, aggravating her PMDD. We swapped in KIND bars and homemade trail mix containing nuts. One root cause of PMDD is deregulated blood sugar; the real fat from nuts served to stabilize this.

Andrea didn’t need a complicated plan, she needed to get back to basics with real whole foods. Soon, Andrea’s symptoms and period week no longer caused her such distress and her cravings and moods improved. Because she felt these shifts internally—and wasn’t chastised by some plan or authority figure—her motivation to stick with these changes lasted.

For you: Add in more whole foods to crowd out processed ones (no packages). Eggs with the yolks. Full-fat yogurt. Vegetables. Fruits. You know, the perimeter of your grocery store. Cringed reading the words “full-fat”? You’re not alone. In my program, I dispel nutrition myths keeping you right where the food companies (and the diet industry) want you.

Trainer: Context Is Everything.

Most people hire trainers for accountability. Yet many trainers ignore context: Your body is a machine and they’re the mechanics.

Andrea traveled frequently for work. She was constantly “on.” Despite being exhausted—especially during the last two weeks of her menstrual cycle—she forced herself onto hotel gym treadmills. Physiologically, the excess cardio further aggravated her blood sugar. Psychologically, exercise became punishment for bad food choices. But then those same “bad” food choices became a (secret) reward for exercising.

For you: Are you bored? Need a new exercise routine or creative outlet? Do you need lighter workouts like yoga and walking to help your body heal? Contextualize what’s right for you at this moment.

Psychologist: I’m Not Where I Want to Be.

Diets fail for many reasons, but mainly because they don’t address the deeper beliefs guiding our behaviors.

One of the ways to delve into these beliefs is by exploring the concept of growth mindset. Coined by Dr. Carol Dweck, this strategy focuses on rewarding yourself for effort versus outcome to paradoxically exceed your goals.

With food, this means replacing judgment with curiosity. Instead of beating yourself up, you learn to ask the right questions to figure out why you did what you did. And when you succeed? You’ll know what worked.

Over time, Andrea discovered much of her secret eating during the last two weeks of her cycle came from resisting feeling “emotional.” She felt bad for feeling bad! She closed off this side of herself from the people she needed the most. The solution: She expressed her needs to her loved ones. When she needed the courage and support, she had me and the other strong women in our group on standby.

For you: Next time you self-sabotage, tell yourself you haven’t figured this out…YET! Adding “yet” shifts you onto a learning (not punishment) curve that will serve as the bridge to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

The strategies introduced in this short post are necessarily just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like a deeper dive, click here to receive the first lesson of my Truce with Food program for FREE! You have nothing to lose (other than another season of dieting) and stand to gain more than you ever thought possible.

Ali Shapiro, MS, CHHC, is a health coach, speaker, and author. She combines her background in functional medicine, holistic health counseling, and Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania in her Truce with Food® program. Ali is also a 22-year cancer survivor.

Ali has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Shopping, Huffington Post, Redbook Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, and was a regular health contributor to the NBC 10! Show. She’s also appears on popular wellness sites such as, MindBodyGreen, and Tiny Buddha.