Four Fabulous Fall Recipes

Pumpkin Recipes

Autumn is the time for harvest, which means some of the most delicious fruits, vegetables, and gourds are in season right now! So, even though the temperatures insist it’s still summer, let’s celebrate Fall in hopes that it will come in soon. Pumpkin Popsicles anyone? Just kidding.

Party-Sized Pumpkin Hummus 

For a healthy pumpkin dip perfect for Fall get-togethers, try this pumpkin hummus recipe. Just put everything in a food processor, except for the pumpkin seed and crispy sage garnishes. Serve with pita chips or your favorite vegetable chip!

  • 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 Cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbs Tahini
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbs Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
  • Crispy sage for garnish (just heat olive oil in a pan and sautee the sage leaves until crispy)

Butternut Squash & Apple Salad

Instead of attempting to re-create the genius of this recipe by Balanced Platter, I’m just going to link to the original. It’s as easy as roasting butternut squash with onions and olive oil, then combining it with crisp fresh chopped apples, herbs, and apple cider vinegar.

Pop-Corn

Have you tried sprinkling plain popcorn with melted coconut oil, cinnamon and sugar? If you haven’t – this is a must-try for your next home movie night.

Sweet Potato Ginger Coconut Casserole

This is what happens when you put everything good about Fall in Florida in the oven and bake it. This mouth-watering recipe comes from Eating Richly: Combine 3 Lbs cooked, mashed sweet potatoes with 1 tsp grated ginger, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp orange zest, and 1/4 cup orange juice and put into a casserole dish. Top with chopped pecans and crystallized ginger and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Need more Fall inspiration? We’ve got a Pinterest Board for that!

Seasonal Recipes for Fall

Summer Superfood: Figs!

Grilled fig rosemary skewers

Figs are practically dropping off their trees by this time in summer – but don’t let the bounty overwhelm you. There are so many ways to use these melt-in-your-mouth fruits to sweeten summer salads, throw on the grill, make jam, or even add an exotic flavor to lemonade!

But first, let’s look at what these summertime superfoods can do for your health.

  • Figs are a rich source of fruit fiber, which not only helps with weight loss, but could also help reduce breast cancer risk.
  • Potassium-rich foods like figs help our bodies balance the salt we eat, helping to prevent or stop hypertension.
  • Figs are also a source of calcium , helping to prevent bone loss.
  • Black Mission figs have poly-phenolic flavonoid anti-oxidants, similar to red wine.
  • Figs contain B-complex vitamins like niacin and folates.
  • Dried figs are more dense with minerals including calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and zinc than fresh figs.

Now, what can you do with figs this summer? I like my figs sweet and simple. 

  • Try tossing fresh figs with olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, then roasting them in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Use to top a salad, or as an accompaniment to a cheese plate.
  • Fire up the grill and, using rosemary sprigs as skewers, grill your figs and let them infuse with rosemary flavor! This makes an outstanding dessert, especially when served with vanilla ice cream.
  • Blend fresh, ripe figs with lemon juice, sugar and water for a peach-colored lemonade that is as healthy as it is pretty.

Turn up the Heat this Summer with Watermelon!

watermelon bites

Usually watermelon is your go-to for cooling down – but not after you read this:

Eating watermelon may lead to better sex.

Studies show that watermelon is the little blue pill of the vegetable world, improving blood circulation throughout the entire body – just like Viagra. The magic nutrient is citrulline, which converts to arginine once ingested, and arginine clears the way for blood to flow. Sure, it also helps with cardiovascular health and may help those with obesity and type two diabetes, but sex is a lot more… sexy.

Watermelon is also rich in lycopene, a heart-protecting anti-oxidant that also promotes prostate health. As if that weren’t enough, some scientific evidence points to lycopene helping with male infertility.

So this Fourth of July, tell your fella to eat watermelon – and you’ll really see fireworks!

Here are my favorite ways to eat watermelon:

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Take 6 pounds of seedless watermelon and cut into 2″ chunks. Blend in a blender in batches, pouring in about 2 cups of water to help with the process. Pour the blended watermelon through a strainer into a pitcher (this should yield about 8 cups). Mix in 1 Tb lime juice and 1 Tb agave nectar. Now, pour into glasses with ice, and garnish with mint leaves. It’s delicious!

Watermelon and Goat Cheese Party Bites

Use a cookie cutter to press watermelon into bite-sized rounds. Then place a mint or basil leaf on top, and using a pastry-bag, top with a dollop of soft goat cheese. Skewer with a tooth pick, and finish with a delicate drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

The watermelon bites pictured are topped with yellow heirloom tomatoes and drizzled with basil and hot chili-infused oil.

Bikini Season Brownies

Cacao

The days are heating up, the layers of clothes are coming off, and all I can think about is chocolate. It’s my theory that life is too short not to eat good food, and if that means a brownie now and then, well, that’s what’s happening.

Fortunately, there is a lot to be said for the health benefits of a good, gluten-free brownie. I like this brownie recipe from Elena’s Pantry, which includes creamy roasted almond butter, 2 eggs, agave nectar, vanilla extract, cacao powder, sea salt, baking soda and chocolate chips. It’s full of good fats, low on the glycemic index thanks to agave nectar, and most importantly, it is full of delicious dark chocolate.

The Power of Cacao

Not all cacao powder is created equal, so if you want the highest quality nutrients, get your chocolate fix from something like organic, raw Arriba Criollo Cacao Powder. Straight cacao, which is undiluted with milk and sugar, is packed with anti-oxidants and Phenylethylamine (a mild stimulant that boosts dopamine, serotonin and other feel-good chemicals). Hey, you already knew a brownie makes you feel better – and now you know why!

5 Health Benefits of Chocolate

  1. Cacao is an appetite suppressant, and it’s low on the glycemic index.
  2. Cacao is an excellent source of iron, magnesium and chromium.
  3. Cacao releases neurotransmitters that help endorphins and serotonin flow.
  4. Cacao is full of flavanoids which, like antioxidants, fight free radicals that damage cells.
  5. Cacao delivers a powerful punch of polyphenols which help fight heart disease and reduce inflammation.

Remember: Eat better, feel better, live better. And everything’s better with chocolate.

Taste the Rainbow: 5 Ways to Use Juicing Pulp

Juicer pulp rainbow

It pains me to throw away perfectly good food, even if it’s been shredded and largely dehydrated. So for those of you juicing at home, here are a few tips for reducing your waste – while reducing your waist. (If you’re on a cleanse, just freeze the pulp.)

Before you whisk that pulp into your next recipe, know that the moisture content varies depending on which juicer you use. Expect some trial and error as you adjust.

1. Green Juice Crust-less Quiche – You’ve seen those photos on Pinterest of mini breakfast quiches baked in muffin tins, right? Using muffin tins is a great way to plan easy breakfasts for the week. Just whisk together your eggs and greens (and goat cheese or feta if you’re inclined) for a delicious portion-controlled breakfast. Spinach, kale and chard pulp is the perfect healthy addition.
2. Soups & Stews – Saute your carrot, celery and parsley scraps along with chopped onion for a healthy base for broths, soups and stews. Literally, just add water (and vegetable broth or tomato juice if you want to kick it up a notch).
3. Pancakes – Carrot and sweet potato pulp make for bright orange and deliciously sweet pancakes and waffles.
4. Muffins – Use apple, carrot and ginger pulp for carrot-apple tea cakes.
5. Beet Carrot Cucumber Salad, with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts – The name says it all. Combine your beet, carrot and cucumber pulp (removing any large pieces), make a simple vinaigrette (2Tb honey, 1 ½ Tb Dijon, 3 Tb red wine vinegar, 1 ½ Tb minced shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil), and toss with goat cheese and toasted walnuts. Great for picnics and potlucks.

What’s your favorite way to use pulp? Compost? Birdfood? Sweets?

Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day with This Aphrodesiac Dinner Menu

Cherry Tomato & Watermelon Salad

Valentine’s Day is only a few days away, and while many of you probably have dinner reservations, I have a menu full of aphrodesiacs that will tempt you to dine in.

Forbidden Fruit

Start the evening off with a salad that includes watermelon, like the one above. Not only does this add a sweet, fresh flavor to your greens, but watermelon is sort of nature’s little blue pill. The phytonutrient citrulline has the power to relax blood vessels, like Viagra. You could even use a cookie cutter to make little red hearts out of sliced watermelon.

A Fine Red Wine

Have a glass with dinner to unwind, and enjoy the heart-healthy antioxidants in the world’s favorite romantic beverage. Besides relaxation, the resveratrol boosts blood flow and improves circulation. Just don’t over-indulge, or you might pass out before the fun really starts!

Spicy in the Kitchen = Hot in the Bedroom

If you like spicy food, then you are in for a treat – in more ways than one. Capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot, increases circulation and gets blood pumping, while stimulating nerve endings. Of course, you don’t want to go too hot, unless you’re into a little culinary kinkiness. Try my Spicy Chili Rellenos recipe below to get you in the mood.

Forget Chocolate – Try Vanilla this Valentine’s Day

I realize that what I’m about to say is sacrilege to chocolate-lovers, but while chocolate is an aphrodisiac, vanilla too often gets short shrift. When you use real vanilla bean in a dessert recipe, you’ll reap the rewards – it mildly stimulates nerve endings, so you’ll feel electricity in every caress. Try this vegan vanilla cake with lemon coconut frosting recipe (minus the food coloring).

Chili Rellenos
Intelligent Gourmet’s Spicy Chile Rellenos
Yield: Makes 4 peppers (4 servings)

Ingredients:
• 4 medium to large Poblano chile peppers (choose firm vegetables with a shiny dark
green skin)
• 2 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded
• 1 small to medium sweet onion, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
• 1 – fresh lime
• 2 – tablespoons of Cholula* Chili Lime Hot Sauce
• 1 tsp of ground cumin
• 1/4 tsp of red chili powder
• 2 ounces of grated queso blanco (white melting cheese)
• pinch of sea salt
• 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts thoroughly trimmed of all fat
• 2 – 12 ounce bags of fresh spinach, washed, with large stems removed
* this particular brand is gluten free

Preparation:

Wash the 4 Poblano chilies and put in an oven proof pan with a 1/4 inch of water in the bottom, cover tightly and roast in a hot oven 350 degrees for 10 minutes (just until soft.) Remove from oven set-aside until cool to the touch. Poach chicken on stove top in 2 cups of water at a slow simmer for 10 minutes, remove from stove and cool to touch. Take the Chiles from the pan and reserve the liquid. Make a slit lengthwise in the pepper being careful to leave the stem in tack, gently remove all the seeds from the chili pepper and place in a baking safe dish. Mix chopped and seeded tomato with 1/2 the onion, and 1/2 the fresh cilantro, season with sea salt and toss with the juice of 1 – fresh lime, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pull the chicken into 1/4-inch strips into a medium bowl; add grated queso, remaining onion and cilantro, ground cumin, chili powder, Cholula chili lime sauce, and all of the spinach. Toss until everything is blended and well coated with the spices and herbs. Stuff each chili pepper until bursting place in back in backing dish and pour the reserved water over the peppers. Cover with foil and finish in the 350-degree oven for 12- 15 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately with the tomato, cilantro, onion, and lime salsa on top.

Chef Notes:

  • To make this meal comply with Ideal Protein® protocol we omit the queso blanco, and use flax seed dissolved in water as a binder.
  • To make this recipe Vegetarian change out chicken for quinoa, or lentils. You may also use a vegetable “ cheese” style product. 
  • Average calories per serving: 237; 219 without the cheese, all nutritional information is calculated on the web and is accurate to the best of our ability. Full nutritional information is available on request.

Flu Fighting Foods – From Apples to Hot Toddies

apples
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – Your mother probably told you that, and she was right! It’s amazing how well we can prevent disease through simple nutrition alone, even during flu season (yes, even during THIS flu season!). Here are some scientifically proven snacks that have the power to prevent – or at least shorten the duration – of colds and flu. Give your body the weapons it needs to fight!

Apples to the Rescue!

Apples not only have Vitamin C, they also contain flavanoids (which help prevent heard disease), antioxidants (which prevent cancers), phenols (which lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol), phytonutrients (prevent neurodegenerative diseases), and antibacterial properties that help prevent tooth decay.

Make Room for Mushrooms

Cremini, portobello, and white button mushrooms are sources of beta-glucan – a dietary fiber that reduces risk for disease and infections by activating the immune system. Barley is another great source for beta-glucan. Try sauteing them with some garlic and olive oil for an anti-bacterial and antimicrobial boost.

Time for Tea (or a Hot Toddy)*

Tea with honey not only feels great on a sore throat, it packs an antibacterial and antiviral one-two-punch. Kick it up a notch by adding a shot of brandy, lemon, and a slice of fresh ginger (antibacterial properties!) for some added cold comfort. Either way, you’ll also benefit from tea’s antioxidants.

Chicken Noodle Soup for Body & Soul

Chicken noodle soup is an anti-inflammatory, especially when it comes to inflammation of the nasal passageways. In fact, Dr. Irwin Ziment at the UCLA School for Medicine found that chicken soup contains “drug-like agents similar to those in modern cold medicines,” even one that’s commonly prescribed for bronchitis.

Recipe for a Hot Ginger Toddy

In a large mug, combine:

  • 2 Tb Honey
  • 2 Tb lemon juice
  • Thinly sliced fresh ginger
  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 tea bag of your favorite black tea
  • Fill with boiling water
  • Top with a lemon slice

Keep out of reach of children.

Meatless Monday: Raw Vegan Lasagna

Raw Vegan Lasagna recipe

The words “raw” and “vegan” can be frightening to many average Americans, and if you’re already shuddering at the thought – just think of it this way: It’s a salad. A completely, non-threatening, apolitical salad, just like Mama used to make – but even better.

Just imagine this as a first course to an indulgent Italian dinner – not bad right?

FYI: A raw vegan diet consists of plant-based foods never heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit – the idea being that vitamins are easily destroyed by heat. In fact vitamin C is one of the most at-risk vitamins in high temperatures. Of course, your cooking method makes a big difference. If cook you must, steaming your veggies is best, boiling is worst (all the good stuff goes into the water instead of into you!).

The secret to making this raw vegan lasagna recipe delicious is the freshness of the ingredients. Summer squash and rich heirloom tomatoes are full of flavor, especially when combined with a sweet tomato relish, shredded fresh basil (on top), and a drizzle of olive oil. On the bottom are spinach leaves, and you can also include fresh oregano and thyme. But, you might be wondering about that cheese-like substance.

Pass the Cheese Please

There are a number of delicious ways to create faux ricotta. One of our favorite methods is to soak 2 cups of cashews for an hour, then put them in a food processor with lemon juice, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1 tsp salt, and 6 tbsp water. Cashews have a lower fat content than most nuts, and are high in copper and magnesium. They’re also delicious!

 

Intelligent Gourmet Thanksgiving: Aromatic Brined Turkey with Cider Gravy

Gobbled Gobbled

“Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants.” – Kevin James, comedian

Binge eating on Thanksgiving is as traditional as pumpkin pie, or the New Year’s resolution to lose weight. But you don’t have to feel as stuffed as a Turkey after dinner this year. You have the power to make Thanksgiving healthier and feel good about yourself the day afterwards. If you use the recipes I’ve written about this month, you can eat your fill guilt-free – and benefit from all the nutrients on the table – starting with the turkey and gravy.

Aromatic Brined Turkey
Yield – 6-8 servings

Ingredients
10-12 pound thawed or fresh turkey
1 C kosher salt
1/4th mixed peppercorns
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 whole carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
Generous bunch of fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cinnamon stick
½ cup pickling spice (whole)
1/4th tsp ground ginger
1/4th tsp ground allspice
2 gallons water
5 cloves garlic

Turkey Rub
1/4th cup olive oil
2 Tb thyme
2 Tb parsley
1 tsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
½ tsp sea salt
1/4th tsp cracked black pepper

Prep:

Two days in advance: Take all ingredients (except the turkey) and add them to a large stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, and refrigerate.

One day in advance: Remove giblets from turkey and set aside.
Rince the bird under cold water and pat dry. Add the turkey to the refrigerated brine and allow to sit for 6 hours.

The night before: Remove the turkey from the brine, pat dry, and return to the refrigerator overnight. This dries the skin so it will crisp.

Thanksgiving Day: Preheat oven to 550. Rub the turkey inside and out with the olive oil & herb turkey rub. Put the turkey in the oven for 30 minutes, then cover the breast with aluminum foil and replace in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake until juices in thigh run clear and breast meat reaches 165 degrees with a meat thermometer. Let the bird rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

Why it’s crazy-good for you: Turkey is such a healthy meat – high in protein, low in fat, and an excellent source of amino acids. And, did you know Tryptophan is an anti-depressant?

White meat or dark meat? White meat may be lower in fat and calories, and higher in protein, but dark meat has higher levels of Zinc, iron and thiamine. One choice is not automatically better for you than the other! Here’s the breakdown (1 serving = 3.5 oz).

  • Calories per serving: White meat contains 161 calories. Dark meat contains 192 calories.
  • Fat per serving: White meat contains 4 grams. Dark meat contains 8 grams.
  • Protein per serving: White meat contains 30 grams. Dark meat contains 28 grams.
  • Iron: White meat contains 1.57 mg. Dark meat contains 2.4 mg.
  • Zinc: White meat contains 2.08 mg. Dark meat contains 4.3 mg.
  • Thiamine: White meat contains .04 mg. Dark meat contains .05 mg.
  • Riboflavin: White meat contains .13 mg. Dark meat contains .24 mg.
  • Selenium: White meat contains 32.10 mcg.  Dark meat contains 40.90 mcg.
  • Folate: White meat contains .01 mcg. Dark meat contains 10 mcg.

Glory Foods Basic Gravy

Healthy Cider Gravy

Ingredients
4 cups Turkey stock or reduced sodium chicken broth, divided
3 Tb tapioca starch
1 1/4th cups apple cider (all-natural, unsweetened)
2 Tb cider vinegar
1/4 th tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Prep:

If making from your own turkey broth, skim off any visible fat from the pan juices. Whisk ½ cup turkey stock and tapioca starch in a small bowl until smooth and set aside. Set the roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat. Add cider and vinegar, and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the pan. Boil until liquid is reduced by about half. Add the remaning 3 ½ cups stock and pour the reserved flour mixture into the pan. Boil, whisking constantly, until the gravy is thickened. Remove from heat and pour the gravy through a fine sieve. Season with salt and pepper.

Why it’s crazy-good for you: In several studies, vinegar has been linked to lowering glucose levels and evening out blood sugar, which means that even though you’re eating a lot today, you won’t up-end your brain chemistry completely tomorrow.

An Intelligent Gourmet Thanksgiving: Smart Sides Part 2 – Wild Rice Dressing

20091126_MG_9216

Forget the turkey, just let me eat the stuffing! It’s the best part of the bird, isn’t it? But, packed with bread and butter, it’s not the best thing for you – until now. My gluten-free Wild Rice Chicken Sausage Dressing has all the flavors you love, and is packed with B-vitamins. Feel free to experiment with variations, like adding chunks of apple, celery, or butternut squash.

Ingredients:
2 Tb olive oil
½ cup onion
2 Tb garlic
½ cup dried fruit
¼ tsp cumin
2 cups wild rice
4 cups chicken stock
8 oz chicken sausage*

Prep:
Saute the onions, garlic and dried fruit in the olive oil until onions are tender. Add the rice, chicken stock and chicken sausage. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until rice becomes level with liquid. Once rice and liquid are level, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

*To make vegetarian, use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock and a cup of beans in place of chicken sausage.

Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Why it’s crazy-good for you:
Not only does this North American native plant harken back to the pilgrim days, wild rice has far more protein, minerals, B vitamins, and folic acid than other grains. It is high in carbs, but is only 83 calories in ½ cup of cooked rice.

*This is a WanderFood Weds post.