Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Blend

The flavours of pumpkin pie are all the rage during the autumn months. You see everything from pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin chai tea—even pumpkin spice Oreo cookies! IT seems as if pumpkin spice is everywhere as soon as fall hits.

But how do you get this spice? How do you bring the pumpkin into your home besides spending a fortune on the specialty products? Sure, you can buy prepackaged pumpkin pie spice if you want, but then you have no control! If you want to adjust the spices in your pumpkin pie (or anything else you want to add this flavour too) you have come to the right place!

Commercial pumpkin pie spice will vary based on the manufacturer, and thus so will your homemade blends. However, the common individuals spices you find in pumpkin pie spice are cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, and occasionally mace.

Making your own pumpkin pie spice allows you to bring out one of the specific spices more strongly, or eliminate one you really cannot stand if you so desire.

The fact that you have the control means there is not a hard and fast rule about how much of each spice you need in your pumpkin spice blend. However, our recommended basic recipe looks like this:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon mace (optional)

You can adjust these according to your taste and recipe requirements.

Even though buying a commercial pumpkin pie spice is convenient, making your own is not only far more economical, but also quite a bit more delicious. When you purchase all the individual spices you need there is some expense, but then you can mix your pumpkin spice regularly and even have some individuals spices left over, which you can then use in other recipes! With this and the taste in mind, you will never go back to commercial blends once you make your own pumpkin spice once!

3 Ways To Eat Flaxseed

Flaxseed has many benefits, including having a high amount of fiber content and other vitamins and minerals. This makes them an effective addition to your diet, though very few people would want to eat ground flaxseed alone. Thus, they look for ways to mix them in with other foods they eat. Here are three of the most popular ways to eat flaxseed to help get you started:


When you make a smoothie, chances are you start with a selection of fruit, add milk or water, and then choose a banana or avocado to help make your smoothie creamy. In some instances, you might choose spinach or kale to increase your smoothie’s health benefits. Adding a few teaspoons of ground flaxseed is also a great way to boost your smoothie’s nutritional benefits without shifting the taste too much. You can add more than a few teaspoons, of course, but it is best to give your body time to adjust and slowly increase your intake.

Baked Goods

Flaxseed is perhaps the best and most versatile ingredient you can use in baked goods—it makes the perfect substitute for many other common ingredients, and also makes for a nutritious addition. Vegan bakers often use flaxseed as a replacement for eggs—to do this you would add 1 tablespoon of flaxseed to 3 tablespoons of water for every egg you need to replace in your baking. You can also eliminate the oil and butter in a recipe by substituting ground flaxseed at a 3:1 ratio (e.g. 1 cup of the ground flaxseed per ½ cup of oil or butter).

Chili and Casseroles

Need more fibre in your diet? Just want to add other nutritional benefits without altering the taste? Add some ground flaxseed to savoury recipes like chili and casseroles! You will not notice much of a difference in terms of taste, especially with a dish like chili, which is normally packed full of spices of its own. You will, however, be ingesting a lot more nutrients than before, which can only benefit your body.

3 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

When you look at a list of superfoods, you will likely find chia seeds listed at some point.  They often top many of these superfood lists, especially those related to smoothie additions and similar. However, many people are not aware of exactly why these tiny black seeds are so beneficial—they simply buy them up and include them in their diet simply on the word that they are a superfood.

Packed With Nutrients

Chia seeds contain what is essentially a laundry list of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Some of the most prominent include the following per 28-ounce serving of chia seeds: 11 grams of fibre, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (including 5 grams of omega-3s), and an array of potassium, calcium, B2, B3, and more. In short, you can get a lot of nutritional benefits from these tiny seeds. Some other nutritional benefits include

Weight Loss Power

Both the fiber and protein in chia seeds work to help fill you up quickly and maintain that feeling of fullness, both of w hic help reduce snacking and promote weight loss, particular when combined with a healthy exercise regime. The reduction in appetite from consuming chia seeds on a regular basis must be in combination with other healthy dietary choices and regular exercise, otherwise you risk counteracting the benefits.

Easy Incorporation

Chia seeds, if you were to try eating them by themselves, are actually quite bland in flavour. So while this does not make them appetizing on their own, it does render them quite easy to incorporate into your diet. Perhaps the most popular use for them, even beyond chia pudding, is to add in a few teaspoons to a smoothie. But in addition to this, you can add chia seeds to muffins, banana bread, and other baked goods. You can even include them in savoury dishes if you think about the quantities carefully.

4 Great Smoothie Additions

Smoothies are a great breakfast you can whip up and take with you on the go. They are also a great snack or post-workout recovery drink. They serve many nutritious functions! However, beyond blending fruit and milk, what can you add to your smoothies to truly make them the best they can be? Here are four great smoothie additions to get you started.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are truly a superhero among seeds, which is why adding few teaspoons into your smoothie is a great idea, especially if you are using it as your breakfast. These tiny seeds contain a high amount of omega fatty acids, which increase the healthy function of your brain and help your heart and cholesterol levels. They also contain lots of protein, iron, antioxidants, and many other nutrients.


Sure, you can use yogurt or a banana to help thicken your smoothie, but if you really want a creamy texture and a nutrition packed drink, you need to add an avocado. Not only does this one of our smoothie additions give your drink a nice consistency, but it also contains almost 20 vitamins and minerals, in addition to being home of healthy fats.

Flax Seed

Need more fiber in your diet? Add a teaspoon or two of flaxseed to your smoothie! You can either ground it yourself, or buy the pre-ground variety—either one is fine. This seed adds a slight nutty flavour to your smoothie. Along with the fiber, you also get omega fatty acids, and the ground flaxseed promote a healthy heart, boost immune system, brain function, et cetera.

Cacao Powder

Do you have a sweet tooth? Adding cacao powder to your smoothie can bring a rich chocolatey flavour while also curbing your sweet tooth. This does not contain vast amounts of sugar, which is why you will need to adjust to taste and still have sweet smoothie additions (and lots of fruit). In addition to the flavour, cacao powder also brings a lot of antioxidants into your smoothie.

Substituting Fresh Herbs for Dried Herbs

Regardless of the recipe, you can use fresh herbs if it calls for dried and dried herbs even if it calls for fresh. However, you cannot just do the exact same thing with your chosen substitute as you would have with what the recipe called for! Doing so will not produce the same flavours you would get with the recipe are written. Here are the major things to consider when substituting fresh herbs for dried and vice versa.

When To Add The Herbs

When you use dried herbs, you want to add them near the beginning of the recipe. They pack quite the punch initially, and cooking them longer helps mellow out their intense flavour. This is not the case with fresh herbs. You need to add the fresh herbs, often chopped, to your cooking near to the end. Fresh herbs have a more delicate flavour, so you do not want it to disappear or alter in a negative way during a longer cook.

Different Amounts of Herbs

Did you know you need different amounts of fresh herbs than dried, regardless of the specific herb and the original amounts the recipes calls for? You need more fresh herbs than you would dried for the same reason you add them later on in the cook: fresh herbs have a more delicate flavour, which means you need more in order to get up to the same level. A rough guide to follow is to use one tablespoon of the fresh herbs per teaspoon of dried herbs. That said, you might also need to play around with this according to your recipe as well as your personal tastes. The important takeaway, however, is that you cannot just use the same amount of dried herbs as you would fresh and vice versa.

3 Alternatives to Cow’s Milk

These days it is not uncommon for people to look for alternative to their regular cow’s milk, whether it’s because they are lactose intolerant or are quite allergic to dairy products, or if they are looking for lower fat alternatives, even if they could safely consume cow’s milk. In fact, the use of milk alternatives is so prevalent that many might say there really is no “regular” milk anymore.

Regardless of why you want to find an alternative to cow’s milk, it can be confusing for someone first considering the idea. To help make the transition easier, here are details on five of the most popular alternative’s to cow’s milk.

Soy Milk

Made from soybeans, you can find soy milk in both sweetened and unsweetened varieties. In addition to the original flavour, some brands also offer chocolate, vanilla, or even cappuccino flavour of soy milk. Out of all the alternatives, soy milk is perhaps the most prevalent, and tends to be the first one others might recommend if you want to make the switch, even if you only consume it as a transition to another alternative.

For the most part soy milk is the nutritional equivalent to cow’s milk, though makers often have to fortify it with calcium and vitamins A and D in order for that to happen. Another good thing about soy milk is that just about all varieties have between eight and 10 grams of protein per portion.

However, some report soy milk can cause severe allergic reactions, and some reports indicate the soy in the milk can negatively influence fertility in men and women (thought this also linked to overconsumption).

Almond Milk

Next to soy milk, almond milk is the next on the list of most popular cow milk alternatives. As you might expect, it is made from almonds and water. Naturally, this milk alternative contains quite a lot of vitamin E. Some brands even reach half of your recommended daily intake in one cup. Another significant benefit, particularly for those looking to reduce the fat and calories they consume, is how most varieties of almond milk contain only one third of the calories of 2% cow’s milk.

Coconut Milk

In terms of texture, coconut milk is perhaps the closest to whole cow’s milk, though this is, in part, because it is normally quite high in fat.

It is, however, a great option for those allergic to gluten and soy, since it contains neither. It is also an excellent choice for baked good because of its nutty flavour.

Unfortunately, drawbacks other than the fat content include a lack of nutritional value when compared to cow’s milk.

Types Of Vinegar

When most people think of vinegar, they tend to imagine the kind they will put on their fries. Most people also know they can use that same vinegar for turning small cucumbers into pickles. Beyond these uses, however, things get a little more complicated. Many people are not even aware of the sheer number of different types of vinegar there are on store shelves! To that end, here are four of the most popular types of vinegar available, including some of their most popular uses.

White Vinegar

In addition to its culinary uses in making ketchup, many commercial salad dressings, and a common condiment for French fries in some countries, white vinegar has a number of different uses in your home. For instance, it is great at removing calcium buildup. If your kettle is getting a film on the inside, simply pour in some white vinegar (you can dilute it slightly with water) and set it to boil. Just remember to rinse it out and boil at least one round of pure water in it before you actually make hot water to drink in tea, coffee, et cetera.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has a mellow taste, which makes it a good addition to many different recipes and sauces. It also tops many lists of natural medicinal remedies for things like reducing GI distress, lowering inflammation, and some reports even suggest it helps manage diabetes. Apple cider vinegar is also extremely popular when it comes to natural cleaning solutions.

Rice Vinegar

Like apple cider vinegar (and most other types), rice vinegar makes a good addition to your cleaning regime. All you need to do is dilute it with some water to clean counters, wash the floors, et cetera. In addition, rice vinegar is very popular in Asian recipes, including stir-fries, and as a part of Asian salad dressing (e.g. for a cucumber and sesame salad).

It is also an excellent choice for sprinkling over vegetable side dishes or as part of a dressing for fruit salad, since its subtle flavour does not compromise (and in fact, enhances) the flavour of the fruit and does not leave a salty aftertaste.

Red Wine Vinegar

Red wine vinegar, as a result of its acidity, makes a good addition to many recipes, including making salad dressings and marinades for fish, meat, and vegetables. The smooth taste excites most taste buds. While you would not use this vinegar for cleaning your home more than the others (there are better options), it does have quite a few health benefits, including managing your appetite, controlling diabetes, and providing you with more antioxidants.

Take An Ingredient Inventory

You cannot effectively plan what you want to eat every day, or have the insurance of knowing you will have enough ingredients to cook your favorite meals when you want them, unless you take time to create or update an ingredient inventory. Here are a couple tips to consider when you are taking inventory in your kitchen:

Paper or Digital

While you can easily just make a list with a pen and paper, this method of taking an ingredient inventory can get quite tiresome as well as messy when it comes to actually updating the list as the ingredients in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer change.

Instead, we suggest keeping a digital account of your ingredient inventory, either in a simple text document or spreadsheet. This way, you can easily type in the ingredients you have and update them without messing up countless bits of paper. It definitely makes the process much easier to handle.

What To Inventory

Ideally, you would keep a complete inventory of everything you have in relation to ingredients for your meals and snacks. However, this may not always be possible for any number of reasons, including the amount of time it would take to keep an extensive inventory.

So what should you keep track of, even if you cannot make it a complete list?

First, think about the spices you have. Which ones do you use regularly? Often this includes oregano, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Other spices you may wish to track include ones you use in special recipes. If you make a special blend of spice, keep track of any individual spice you put in it. Understanding when you are running low lets you purchase more before you run out and are left without the ability to make your favorite recipes correctly.

Also consider the nonperishables you have, such as rice, dry pasta, pasta sauce, and canned soup. These often play integral roles in larger recipes.

As well, if you bake even a little bit, keep account of all ingredients related to those recipes, such as quick cooking oats, chocolate chips, brown sugar, flour, and white sugar. Many people tend to bake on a whim, so it helps to always have these elements on hand. This way, you will be able to make a batch of brownies whenever the craving strikes.

Another important thing to inventory is the contents of your freezer. Too often people forget what they have, such as frozen chicken breast from a special a couple weeks ago. As meat is expensive, if you already have some in your freezer, it is better to use it and wait until another special comes along, but you will not know this is possible unless you keep track of your freezer contents.

Never get left out in the cold when you want to cook or bake your favorite recipes and always keep an account of the ingredients you have in your home.

Essential Ingredients For Baking

essential ingredientsAre you getting started with baking? Do you need to stock up your pantry? Baking returns all sorts of delicious goodies, but nothing is more frustrating than choosing a recipe only to find out you are missing one or more of the ingredients. While some recipes will call for certain things you do not normally use, or would go bad quickly, there are some essential ingredients you should always keep on hand if you like to bake.

All-Purpose Flour

There are many types of flour, but some of them, like pastry flour, are meant for only certain recipes. All- purpose flour, on the other hand, is a very multi functional ingredient. You can use it in cakes, cookies, muffins, and even as a thickening ingredient in savoury cooking. In many instances, you can use some all-purpose flour as a substitute for most of the other kinds of flour.


While it may seem like you could simply leave out a teaspoon of salt in your recipe, it will actually compromise the taste and even the texture of your baked goods if you do. Since it does not go bad, always keep some simple table salt in your pantry for all of your baking needs. You can even use it outside of baking, so you do not need to worry about whether or not you will finish it off.

White and Brown Sugar

Most baking calls for either white or brown sugar, so you should always try to keep some on hand. You can substitute one for the other in many recipes, though it would still be better to use whichever the recipe wants, since it will affect the texture slightly, and even maybe the taste for discerning palates. You can, however, add some molasses to white sugar to help mimic the taste and consistency of brown sugar.

Baking Soda and Powder

You do not want to skip either one of these ingredients if they appear in your list of ingredients for a recipe, Just be sure to read the list carefully so you do not accidentally add the one you are not supposed to!

Baking Chocolate

Do you like chocolate? If so, always keep some baking chocolate and chocolate chips in your pantry. It should always be baking quality so you can be assured of the flavour as well as how much you need to add. Baker’s chocolate is usually much stronger than the commercial chocolate you will see in other aisles at the grocery store.

Pure Vanilla Extract

This is one of the most popular extracts you will see on recipes, which is why it is a good idea to keep it on hand. You can also use this in a pinch if you do not have another extract, though remember it will delivery a different flavour than, say, orange extract.

Differences Between Cooking Oils

Many recipes call for cooking oils as integral ingredients, but they also may request you to fry, sauté, bake, et cetera, with some oil involved. Even though oil is common, many people misuse the types of cooking oil available to them. To help maximize your health as well as the taste of your dish, here are details on some of the major cooking oils you will encounter in kitchens and the grocery store.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you ask someone about cooking oil, most people will think of extra virgin olive oil. This is perhaps one of the most popular, and many people turn to it when they need a cooking oil in their recipe. It has a delicious flavour to it, which is another aspect that makes it a popular choice among people in the kitchen. That said, this is not as versatile as you might think. Extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point at 320 degrees Fahrenheit. When you heat an oil past its smoke point, you compromise the flavour and can actually cause your health some harm as well. Thus, save extra virgin olive oil for recipes that do not require heat, like salad dressing, dips, or a simple one-ingredient pasta sauce.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil has an iconic, nutty smell to it when you open its bottle. That said, the flavour is relatively neutral, making it a versatile oil. It has a higher smoke point at 410 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you can use it for sautéing or frying with relative security. It works well in salad dressing with all of its vitamins and minerals, as well as fatty acids. If used correctly, you can really enhance the sesame flavour, making this a go-to oil for many Asian recipes.

Canola Oil

Do you want a good neutral oil you can use in just about any recipe? Canola oil, also seen as vegetable oil, has a high smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which means it can withstand deep frying, sautéing, et cetera. It is also quite cheap compared to most other cooking oils. It is important to note, however, that canola oil is not the best for your health, which is why you may want to use it sparingly in your diet or find an appropriate substitute.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is the cooking oil with the highest smoke point on this list: 510 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it an excellent choice for all high temperature cooking, like grilling or frying. It does possess a buttery flavour and has high levels of the healthy monounsaturated fats. It is also quite versatile and you can also use it in salad dressing, as a drizzle, or in other no temperature recipes.