Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash

Working with butternut squash can be quite a chore when you don’t have the right tools. First off you will want a sturdy vegetable peeler, that is comfortable to hold, is sharp and has a swivel blade that can easily run along the squash’s wide curves. If you tire, get blisters, peel off (your)skin, get frustrated or take more than 3 minutes to peel your squash, you need a new peeler.

Next would be a real knife that is made with German steel, properly maintained with a honing steel and regular sharpening. I like a 7 inch chef’s knife, mine is made by J. A. Henckels. If you have to exert a dangerous amount of force while slicing the squash in half or the metal flexes, creating a concave slice, it is time to get yourself a better tool.

I also like a grapefruit spoon to scrape the inners out. The serration and the curve of the spoon make the task of removing the stringy mess a breeze.

One of the main purposes for roasting vegetables (opposed to steaming) is to draw out moisture, which concentrates flavor. If you have a convection setting on your oven, this would be the perfect application to use it. Convection baking moves the air around more for even baking and browning.

2 lb butternut squash
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (convection if possible). Peel squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place one half on cutting board flat side down. Make one inch slices horizontally all the way down the length of the squash, then cut each slice into 1 inch cubes. Toss in oil to coat, arrange cut squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve as a side dish or snack.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vote With Your Forks!

I have not read a book for pleasure in a long time. Finally, I figured out my ipod (who said Apple programs were user friendly?) and loaded the audio book In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It is so refreshing to hear a voice defending real food against the “edible food-like substances” of our time. Pollan advises a simple diet of eating high quality real food that consists mostly of plants. There are no restrictions in the way of real food; if you love potatoes, eat them every day. If you hate eggplant, you never have to eat one again and you can still be entirely healthy. The obvious issue with our society is HOW things are grown, raise, formulated and processed.

My favorite quote so far is “…a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it's not really food." This is referring to A) it is in a box/bag to advertise a claim and B) the claims are “low fat, no cholesterol, heart healthy, good source of whole grain, sugar free and high fiber. All of these latter claims are slapped on packages of fake food that can be synthetically altered to make such claims.

A great disservice has been done to food. Scientists create synthetic beta carotene and call it a carrot. Whether using this to create a vitamin or enriching an “edible food-like substance,” it is in direct violation of God’s creation and in turn our very bodies. Conspiring men believe and are good at making others believe that they can make foods better than nature. Our society is brainwashed into thinking fake foods are better than the real thing because they can formulate it and reformulate it to fit the fad of the season.

There was a really interesting section in the book where it talks about the evolution of food labeling. From 1938 to 1973 the term “imitation” was used on the product labels of fake foods posing as a real one. The FDA changed this law to one of broader interpretation; “as long as the new fake food were engineered to be nutritionally equivalent to the real article, they could no longer be considered fake.” This is when traditional grocery items like bread and yogurt were reformulated from a simple 2 to 5 ingredient lists to recipes containing 30 plus ingredients.

When I was growing up, my poor mother didn’t stand a chance, it was impossible to get foods grown without synthetic chemicals and pastured animals raised without pharmaceutical. Even most people growing/raising their own, had no idea it would be wise to avoid such mainstream practices. It is such a blessing in our day to be able to obtain real, high quality food. In Defense of Food reminds us that you can “Vote with your forks!” Support local, organic farmers and local, organic farmers will become more accessible.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Carmel Banana Pecan Topping

We were in need of a new syrup for Friday Morning Waffles. My last creation was a bomb; a goopy, grainy, bitter mess (I blame the peaches, anybody found a way to use up icky mushy peaches?) Usually fresh berries and whipped cream suffice, only one problem, berry season is gone. We have done syrups from frozen berries and those are nice too. But for this morning I came up with a nice buttery topping with bananas that was such a treat. I can see this going well on a lot of things… hot cereal, ice cream, brownies, vegetables.
For the waffles I used the same recipe as my soaked pancakes, sometimes changing up the grains to spelt and oats. Make sure you have a nice, clean, nonstick waffle iron that gets really hot to prevent sticking. Even with all that, I still spray the iron before the fist one goes on, just for good measure.

1/3 cup sucanat
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup soaked and dehydrated pecans
2 bananas, sliced

Melt sugar and salt in butter until smooth. Add vanilla, pecans and bananas. Heat through and serve.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cinnamon Pizza

Another blast from my past of high school employment at The Pizza Ranch. There they called this dessert “Cactus Bread,” remember the western theme. Of coarse I had no recipe to work off of at this chain restaurant. The instructions included mixing this bag with water to make the dough, open this bucket for the preserved margarine stuff and that bucket for the strudel, then cut open a bag of frosting. I may have made the cinnamon sugar from scratch. Anyway, it was pretty darn yummy, so I did a little experimenting to recreate and here you have it; made with whole grains and all real food, from scratch, cinnamon pizza.

parchment paper
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons sucanat
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Roll dough out to ½ inch, place on parchment paper. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons sucanat
3 tablespoons sprouted flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt

Cut butter into dry ingredients. Crumble the strudel on top of the dough and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes.

1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup powdered sugar

Whisk until smooth. Let bread cool slightly and drizzle with glaze.

I have heard you can powder sucanat in the vitamix. I'll have to try it and let you know how it goes. I am really trying to avoid white sugar without sacrificing flavor, any tips?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Coconut Carrot-Ginger Soup

I’ve been jonesing for some soup for the last few weeks. On Tuesday, when it was 108 degrees outside, I gave in. I turned my thermostat down to 76 and downed a couple bowls of soupilicious. If I had been able to wait just one more day I could have had my first soup of the season on a more appropriate, under 90 degree day. I suppose it was the lack of groceries that pushed me into premature soup making.

Brilliant orange, sweet, creamy and a hint of spice. Eating vegetables is so dang easy! I serve this to my kids in a cup with a straw as a “warm vegetable smoothie.”

Don’t forget to adjust the seasonings at the end. There is no way to give you a good amount of salt to use as it depends on your stock. I add another good teaspoon because my stock is sodium free. Also important to heat the stock to boiling as it freshens it up a bit and kills some of the froth created by your blender. Do in batches if your blender is smaller than 8 cups. Sautéing in the case of onions improves the flavor of them, but the carrots could be easily steamed first to save time.

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
8 large carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
pinch of cayenne (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable/
chicken stock
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 can coconut milk

Sautee onions in coconut oil, add carrots and salt, cook through. Season and add garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and remove from heat. Place vegetables in a blender with stock and ginger, blend well. Return to heat and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk. Add more salt to taste. Makes about 8 cups of soup, I can eat half of it in one sitting. Leftovers reheat well.

Coconut Carrot-Ginger Soup on Foodista
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