Pumpkin Scallion Dumplings, Being Kinder to Ourselves, and a Dumpling Stuffing Animation

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I’ve been taking it easy on myself in 2016, showing a little kindness and self-care to the only body I got, doing the things I love (like this virtual pumpkin party), and trying some things I’ve always wanted to (like spending a summer in Vermont, sigh).

You see, 2015 was awash in travel (about 20 trips of the airplane variety), a big pop-up market for just a few of my closest 8,000 friends, and a book release that wiped me out. I’m signing a lot of books right now, with the holidays moments away, and it reminded me that my first book came out one year ago, wow.

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On top of all that, after every step and snack was finally taken in last year, I lost nearly 70 pounds. In one year – probably one of the most demanding years of my life. As if it wasn’t enough to do a million new-to-me things, I tossed in the task of finally getting a handle on my body issues, the stuff I’d never before been able to handle in all the years of my life. Because I’m a glutton for doing everything hard at once, ha. (eek, pardon all the meanings in that sentence) I actually didn’t know I was finally getting a handle on all my body issues – it was just right time, right place, and finally being “ready” – but we’ll talk about that another time.

I lost the weight – and began to really appreciate my body – by eating mostly plant-based; cutting out cocktails and dairy and sugar; and making everything I put in my mouth from scratch. I weighed myself almost daily (which is annoying but also a great way to take control of your body and truly understand how certain foods affect it) and found that when I ate food made from scratch – even traditionally indulgent breads, pancakes, pasta, and dumplings – I rarely gained weight.

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In contrast and perhaps as it should be, 2016 has been my year of the pause, gathering my proverbial troops, maintaining my weight loss, and really making it part of my forever story. I’m happy to say that I’ve maintained the weight loss, give or take five-ish pounds – and feel more equipped than ever to lose a little more next year, though my doctor says that if I lose just five pounds next year, she’ll be happy. She’s right, I’ll be happy too because we’re being kinder to ourselves, right?

In case you were wondering, I kept it all off while still eating all of these dumplings.

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Instead of filling dumplings with pork, however, I prefer to sneak vegetables into my comfort foods. Sometimes, I stuff them with cabbage and I know there’s a freezer stash of dumplings made from potatoes mixed with shredded zucchini. But during these chilly months, all I want is pumpkin stuffed dumplings.

I roast my own, because why not. Plus, a warm oven keeps the house warm. But really, pumpkins aren’t just for carving, as this virtual pumpkin party demonstrates. Still, my recipe is easily made with a can of pumpkin puree because sometimes a week night needs dumplings, too, and to roast a pumpkin after a 12-hour workday seems like a little too much to ask – of you and me both.

When I do, however, roast that pumpkin, I make trays and trays of dumplings. I freeze them in portioned out bags and steam them from frozen. While they steam, I make a big shredded salad or roast something green to serve alongside. I really love to make an herb-filled green sauce, a loose pesto of just herbs, garlic, olive oil, nuts, and seasoning, for dipping but, in a pinch, a quick soy sauce based dip does fine.

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I’m overjoyed to share my recipe alongside hundreds of others in this virtual pumpkin party. Take a long hard look at all the other recipes, because you’ll be roasting pumpkin for days. Thank you to Sara and Aimee for hosting and including me! Don’t forget to scroll down for the recipe.

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Pumpkin Scallion Dumplings

I make these with canned pumpkin puree or, even better, roasted pumpkin or butternut squash during the season.

If you prefer to roast a pumpkin (and I hope you do), then halve, seed, and roast it for 45 minutes in a 375 degree oven until it’s tender. Let cool and remove the skin for this recipe. Use a 1-pound portion of the pumpkin flesh whizzed up in a food processor or mashed up by hand to make about 24 dumplings. (A 4-pound sugar pumpkin will make closer to 100 dumplings.) Fresh pumpkin has more moisture in it, so I let the filling mixture rest for 20 minutes and drain off any liquid that collects before making the dumplings.

Dumpling wrappers are 100% up to you. On the weekends, I make them from scratch using this recipe. During a busy week day, I use the store-bought kind. Let your time allotted determine your approach.

Once in a while, I mix things up by dipping these dumplings in an herb-filled green sauce. The quick dipping sauce recipe below is rather easy to pull together from the fridge, though, so I included that recipe.

Makes: 24 dumplings

Ingredients:

For the Pumpkin Scallion Dumplings:
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree or equivalent of roasted pumpkin flesh
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or buckwheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pureed ginger or 1/2-inch knob, very finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons scallions, finely diced, from 3-4 scallions
  • Pre-made dumpling wrappers or homemade wrappers using this recipe
For the Dipping Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon scallions, finely diced, from about 1-2 scallion

Directions:

For the Pumpkin Scallion Dumplings:
  1. In a medium bowl, place the pumpkin puree, flour, soy sauce, ginger, salt, and scallions. Stir until the scallions are evenly distributed.
  2. Fill the center of each wrapper with 1 teaspoon of filling mixture. Apply a light coat of water around the mixture with your finger (see animated image). Fold wrapper in half and seal ends together with firm pressure.
  3. Place dumplings on parchment-lined sheet and freeze until ready to use.
  4. Set a steamer, the bottom filled with water, over medium-high heat. Line the top of the steamer with parchment paper. Once the water has come to a boil, place the dumplings in the top of the steamer, taking care not to let them touch. Steam for 10-12 minutes until cooked through.
For the Dipping Sauce:
  1. Stir together the soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, and scallions in a small bowl. Serve with dumplings.
Photos taken by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio

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