How to Cook a Whole Pumpkin

The pumpkin, the whole pumpkin, and nothing BUT the pumpkin so help me God. A few weeks ago, right before Halloween, I issued a plea on Instagram. Please, enjoy pumpkins responsibly!

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I love pumpkins. I mean who doesn't? ⁠

I love carving pumpkins, decorating the house with pumpkins, and I played Cinderella so it was reliable transport for at least one enchanted evening. ⁠Major flashback to press photos from the show!

Kathryn Kellogg when she starred in Cinderella.

And, of course, I love eating pumpkins! Every year during the fall my mom would make THE BEST pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. I have such fond memories of sneaking into the kitchen to steal a slice with my grandmother.

I‘ve never had a pumpkin spice latte, but I bet it tastes delicious! I gave up coffee last year due to the caffeine causing adverse reactions with my skin, you can read more about it in this post Why I Quit Coffee, but it just dawned on me… that I could try it with decaf!

Here’s a homemade PSL recipe that I want to give a try!

Fact is, growing pumpkins is pretty intensive. Did you know it takes 4.5 months for a pumpkin to reach maturity? That’s half the time it takes to birth a baby! And, think of all the resources that go into it from land use to water.

More than 2 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown every year for all our pumpkin needs, and according to the US Department of Energy, 1.3 billion pounds are UNEATEN and sent to the LANDFILL. Cue the heartbreak.

That’s just devastating! With the number of pumpkins, the UK throws out the entire nation could have a piece of pie! (source)

Beyond the food waste, food in landfills can't break down. It's stuck in limbo releasing methane a greenhouse gas 30x more powerful than carbon. ⁠You can read more in my post on composting!

So, if you're going to get down on some pumpkins this fall, like me, please eat them and then compost them! ⁠

A bunch of people requested a full blog post on how to roast, slice, dice, and recipes for using their pumpkins up in the most delicious ways and I’m happy to oblige!

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how to make pumpkin puree:

Now, the most of the pumpkin bought in store is pumpkin puree which is VERY simple to make.

  1. Cut your pumpkin in half

  2. Scoop out the seeds and strings (but save the seeds!)

  3. Place the pieces cut-side down on an oiled baking sheet.

  4. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees until the flesh is soft, tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. The roasting time will depend on the size of your pumpkin but expect around an hour

  5. Pull the pumpkin out of the oven and scoop out the flesh

  6. Toss the flesh into a food processor or high powered blender

Voila! You now have pumpkin puree.

how to make pumpkin pie filling:

Fun fact! Most of the canned pumpkin pie filling you see on the store shelves don’t actually contain any pumpkin. Yep. You read that right! Don’t believe me? You can read more.

Now, pumpkin pie filling typically has added sweetener and spices so if you’re looking for pie filling, just add a bit of sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Here’s a recipe from Food Network to go from whole pumpkin to pie.

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how to roast pumpkin seeds:

  1. Toss the seeds in a bowl with a little bit of olive oil and salt

  2. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet

  3. Bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally

These are perfect for snacking as is, but I like to add them as a topping to pumpkin soup and to add crunch for salads.

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more recipes and ideas!

I hope these ideas get you so excited to turn your pumpkin into something delicious and tasty!

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20 Easy Zero Waste Swaps

When you first start going zero waste, you probably want to get some quick wins under your belt. It can be pretty daunting to know where to start so I’ve rounded up 20 easy ways for you to get started!

If you’re just starting out trying to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle then be sure to check out the beginner’s tab or take the Zero Waste Challenge. The ZWC is an amazing way to build habits and implement many of these changes in your life.

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1. water bottle:

Carrying a reusable water bottle is one of the easiest habits to get in.

I always tell people to add it to their mantra before they leave the house: phone, wallet, water, keys.

Some overall good brands to consider are: Klean Kanteen, Swell (stainless steel), Life Factory (glass), and Bobble (plastic). They each make different kinds of reusable water bottles from different materials, but they’ll all get the job done.

Check out this blog post to help you choose the right reusable water bottle for you!

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2. grocery bags:

Bag podz are my favorite reusable bags! I use these all the time, I love the handy little pod they come in.

It's like an endless supply of bags that fit in that tiny pod. I never fear of running out in the check out line of the grocery store.

The other tote I always have on my is my Amour Vert cotton tote. The tote came with a purchase I made online, but it’s one of my favorite bags to carry with me. I really wish they made other designs because I would love to have another one.

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3. thermos:

500 billion disposable cups are produced every year. Most of them can't be recycled because they're lined with plastic. If you're sitting in the coffee shop ask for a mug to stay.

If you're getting your drink to-go cup bring your own thermos! I use a mason jar if I'm getting something cold to drink. But, for hot drinks use a keep cup or an insulated water bottle!

Check out this blog post, if you're looking for all of the different ways to brew a zero waste cup of coffee.

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4. produce bags:

Why stop at just plastic grocery bags, swap out those plastic produce bags too. These organic cotton ones are my favorite!

I use them at the farmers market all the time. Get my Four Farmers Market Essentials for picking up that local, zero waste produce.

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5. cloth napkins:

Instead of paper napkins swap them for cloth napkins! The hardest part of this switch, for me, was remembering to wash them. I didn't want to store the dirty napkins in my laundry hamper so I started throwing them in the base of the washing machine.

Whenever I did the next load of laundry the napkins would automatically be included.Be sure to check out my blog post on cloth napkins for more tips on making the switch!

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6. straws:

This is one of the easiest swaps! You might not even need a reusable straw, just ask for, "No straw," with your drink order! 

However, if you think you’d benefit from drinking from a straw. I myself really enjoy drinking from a glass one, I’ve created a fun guide to help you figure out Which Reusable Straw is Right for You.

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7. mason jars:

I do love me some mason jars. They’re also the ideal form of liquid storage i.e. nut milk, smoothies (did you know you can freeze smoothies?)

Having a clear, glass, non-branded container in my pantry allows me to see what foods need to be eaten and which ones I need to buy more of. It makes cooking meals faster, simpler, and most importantly PRETTIER. I mean there’s a reason everyone loves a pinterest perfect pantry!

Of course, you don’t have to go out and buy mason jars, you can upcycle them from many of the jars you already own like mustard jars, jam jars, pasta sauce etc.

And, I promise your pantry will look just as beautiful even if the jars don’t match!

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8. snapware:

I LOVE my glass snapware. I like that it’s so versatile. You can buy food or even get zero waste takeout the containers. You can cook in them, freeze in them, microwave them, and of course, use them store leftovers.

They work so much better for me than just shoving everything in a mason jar. Check out this post if you’re looking for ways to Store Leftovers Without Plastic .

9. metal lunchbox:

Instead of brown bagging it look into swapping out for a metal tiffin. Not only is it great for lunch, but you can also use it to carryout leftovers from a restaurant.

Related Post: How to Pack a Zero Waste Lunch + Lunch Ideas!

Prefer a video instead of a blog post? Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and catch the video below!

10. stasher bags:

Switching out plastic baggies is super easy because there are so many options like silicone stasher bags or even a beeswax wrap.

Check out this blog post if you're looking for Zero Waste Kitchen Swaps.

11. cutlery:

Instead of plastic cutlery, use real flatware. I like to stash a set in my handbag for festivals and bbqs so I don’t have to use single-use forks and spoons.

A lot of people assume that using disposable products will save water, but what they forget to take into account is the water used in production and manufacturing.

It takes 8 gallons of water to make one paper plate! The modern dishwashers that are energy-efficient use 3-5 gallons of water per load of dishes. So you could potentially wash A LOT of plates with all of that water you saved.

There’s so much water that goes into these products that we don’t even think about.

So, switch to reusables! Check out this post Tips for Using Real Stuff for more information.

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12. french press:

It should come as no surprise that I LOVE to make tea in my french press. I find that it works much better than using a tea ball or a reusable tea bag.

If you have a small kitchen, it’s important to have items that can perform multiple tasks. I like the french press because I can use it to make tea, coffee, or nut milk. Yes, your french press can strain your nut milk!

Get my tips for making almond milk and for making iced tea with loose leaf tea.

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13. compostable dish scrubs: 

Instead of using sponges, I use compostable dish scrubbies! Here are some of my favorite swaps below:

Be sure to check out this blog post if you want to MASTER Zero Waste Dish Washing.

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14. rags:

Did you know that paaper towels were actually a mistake product? It took a long time for companies to convince the public to buy them because the thought of paying for trash was ridiculous up until a few years ago.

The biggest complaint I hear about paper towels is that they push water around instead of absorbing it. I've had the best luck with these cotton towels that have a larger weave.

Get my six tips for ditching paper towels so you can break up with paper towels forever!

20 easy zero waste swaps from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #sustainable #simpleswaps #climatechange #zerowasteswaps

15. cleaning:

Swap out cleaners that have questionable toxic ingredients for some easy homemade options. Here's a round up of my favorites!

  • All-purpose spray: who doesn’t love a spray that does it all? Not super into the vinegar smell? Check out this orange peel vinegar cleaner (great for giving your orange peels a second life!).

  • Tub scrub: tub scrub is so effective at breaking down soap scum on your bathtub and cleaning grout. You’ll never need anything else!

To get all of my latest cleaning recipes like dish soap for hand washing, soap for your washing machine, floor cleaner, and more check out my book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste!

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16. bamboo toothbrush:

This is a very super simple zero waste swap! Instead of using a plastic toothbrush why not swap for a bamboo toothbrush.

Every plastic toothbrush ever created still exists since their invention in the 1930's. Isn't that mind-boggling? I filmed a short film about the life of a toothbrush, and it's super cute! 

17. safety razor:

Switching to a safety razor is a little different than using a disposable razor, but once you switch you'll get a superior shave. Plus, you'll save so much money!

Check out my guide to zero waste shaving for tips!

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18. menstrual products:

A lot of the mainstream tampon and pad brands use a combination of bleached rayon, conventional cotton, and contain plastic. The average pad contains the equivalent of four plastic bags. 

My GO-TO period products are Thinx!

They look just like regular undies, but they absorb blood up to two tampons worth depending on the style. I have a couple of their thongs for lighter days, and a couple of the heavy duty pairs. 

They're super comfortable, cute, and I never have to worry about leaking! Plus, I love how the company prioritizes giving back. That's always something I look for when I make purchases. 

Thinx was nice enough to offer the readers of Going Zero Waste $10 off if you use this link!

Other options include menstrual cups, cloth pads, compostable organic tampons.

For more information check out my blog post How to Have a Zero Waste Period.

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19. bidet attachment:

Did you know it takes 37 gallons of water to make one roll of toilet paper!? Beyond the water, think of all the trees it takes. 

Americans use 8 million tons of toilet paper a year. If every US house used just one roll of 100% post consumer recycled TP a year, it would save 423,900 trees. 

Surprisingly, there are a lot of options when it comes to toilet paper, but you’re going to want to look for toilet paper with recycled content or tree free.

And, of course, you should look into getting a bidet attachment like a Brondell or a Tushy bidet.

20. bar of soap:

Last but not least, is a bar of soap. It’s such a simple swap to make from plastic body wash to a bar of soap. I think it looks so much nicer in the shower and it’s just really luxurious.

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Zero Waste in San Diego

I took a little vacation last week. I met up with my mom in San Diego! She still lives in Arkansas so we don't get to see each other very often. I thought it would be nice to meet up in a little beach town for a fun Mother / Daughter weekend.

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We didn’t stay in San Diego very long, but I really wanted to round up some of the neat places we visited! I looked all over the internet to find cool zero-waste/eco-friendly places to frequent in SD and it was a little tough finding a definitive guide.

So, if you’re reading this to prepare for a trip to San Diego - let me just tell you - you’re going to have a great time!

where to stay:

We stayed at the Catamaran Resort which has managed to divert 70% of their waste from landfill and have onsite composting - which is something I struggled to find in San Diego. Their restaurants are also Ocean Friendly certified by Surfrider.

We ordered room service for dessert, (more than once!) and I’ve got to say the skillet brownie was the best on the menu.

The Catamaran has a private section of beach where you can lounge as well as great walking paths. My mom and I strolled around the inlet every evening.

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The Catamaran also has a ship called the Bahia Belle which is a fun little cruise that pings back and forth between its sister resort the Bahia. There’s dancing and drinking onboard. We, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to catch it, but I plan on visiting again and will make it a priority to hop on!

The hotel was also VERY close to the boardwalk with lots of good places to eat with amazing views.

And, lastly, I have to talk about the spa! OMG. The spa was incredible. We both got a massage, but we had access to the spa all day long. Between the steam room, sauna, and relaxation room we were very content to spend our morning sipping cucumber water and letting the stress from the outside world melt away.

The spa had a great selection of green beauty products, but I was pretty excited to find Coola there. If you’re looking to pick up some reef-safe sunscreen in SD now you know where to go.

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where to eat:

Tacos. Tacos. Tacos. Who doesn’t love tacos!? I had tacos and margaritas for almost every meal and I’m not complaining. I found San Diego to be very vegetarian friendly, but it was a little tough for vegan food. However, there is a Café Gratitude in Little Italy!

Honestly, I wish I had more time in San Diego to eat, visit the museums, and spend more time in Balboa Park.

La Playa Taco Shop:

OMG. These tacos! If you’re staying at the Catamaran, this shop is right around the corner. Neither my mom nor I are big eaters so we split a lot of meals. We got three tacos to share, but these were SO good that we ordered two more.

Cafe Coyote:

Cafe Coyote have an extensive vegetarian menu, but I really went here for the tortillas! I honestly wish I had brought some home.

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Oceana Coastal Kitchen:

The Oceana Coastal Kitchen is a nice restaurant at the Catamaran Resort. We ate dinner here and had a wonderful time! The Cadillac margarita was my go-to and we also loved the three mushroom flatbread and the yasai roll.

Buon Appetito:

We loved our dinner at Buon Appetito! I could have feasted on the bread and marina served at the beginning of the meal all night long! Their red sauce is some the best I’ve ever had so we kept it simple with just noodles and red sauce! Of course, we also got some chianti.

Their portions are very big so if you’re not a big eater I do recommend splitting.

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Baja Beach Cafe:

The Baja Beach Cafe place was SO fun. I did not order a margarita here because we went for breakfast, but I definitely plan to stop in again. My mom and I split the pancakes and a skillet breakfast.

Harbor Breakfast:

Harbor Breakfast is absolutely darling! Great food and I loved sitting at the counter, it’s definitely a must for breakfast. I love to eat roasted potatoes and fruit for breakfast and this place did not disappoint. My mom and I also split their pumpkin pancakes. I wasn’t super crazy about them, but my mom thought they were amazing!

where to drink:

LJ Wine Bar:

The LJ Wine Bar is an absolute MUST. They're a completely zero-waste winery and tasting room. Even the labels are reusable - how cool is that!

We picked up two bottles to enjoy while we were in SD and then returned the bottles to be refilled and reused.

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Zero Waste in San Diego from #zerowaste #travelguide #sandiego #california #gogreen #ecofriendly #sustainability #travel #visitcalifornia

Water Bar:

The drinks and view can’t be beat at the Water Bar. My mom and I enjoyed some cocktails and relaxed for the afternoon - it was honestly perfect! Mom got a rum and cherry coke which was stellar.

Babcock & Story:

Babcock and Story is associated with the Coronado Hotel. I love Coronado Island with its golden sand, so making a pit stop at the hotel bar was on my must list. My mom and I enjoyed a cocktail, the view, and a little snack. It was lovely!

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what to see:

We didn’t have a ton of time to visit museums as we weren’t in town for too long, but we did a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour which I absolutely LOVED!

We stopped off in Old Town where we toured the Mormon Battalion Museum and got some fresh tortillas. We hopped off on Coronado Island to enjoy the golden sand beaches and grab a drink at the hotel bar. We also walked around seaport where we rode the antique carousel, and then we finished in Little Italy where we ate some DELICIOUS pasta!

Of course, if you’re visiting you should also make a point to visit Balboa Park!

Have you been to San Diego? I would love to know what you enjoyed doing while there!

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