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Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumpkin Flan with Coconut Milk and Fresh Ginger

No one will suspect that this delicious dessert is healthy. But it is, and it’s also gluten-free and dairy-free.

For a flan that is consistently smooth, I use an electric mixer and canned pumpkin puree for this recipe.

If you prefer, start with a whole pumpkin, cook and puree it well, then use a scant 2 cups for this recipe and reserve the rest for future use. If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can mix it by hand, but be sure the batter is thoroughly combined and perfectly smooth before baking.

I like to use a fluted round baking dish with a 10-inch diameter for this flan, but you can use another dish if you like. Just adjust the cooking time and bake until the top is lightly browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

- 1 tsp butter or cold-pressed coconut oil
- 6 large eggs
- 1 can coconut milk, 15 oz
- 1 can pumpkin puree, 15 oz
- ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
- ½ tsp fresh grated ginger, or 1 tsp if you love ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Use butter or coconut oil to grease a 10-inch round baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat again until smooth. Transfer to the baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely to room temperature before serving. Or, once cool, cover and store in the fridge for future use.

Serve alone or with a dollop of fresh cream whipped with a few drops of honey and a dash of cinnamon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spicy Apple Sauce

This sweet and savory sauce is a nice accompaniment to pork, duck, chicken and turkey. Vegans and vegetarians can enjoy it with potato pancakes, grilled or smoked tofu, and sautéed tempeh drizzled with tamari.

Use organic unwaxed apples and leave the skin on to make the most of antioxidants found there. Taking the time to puree it in a food processor will make a smooth and silky sauce, but you can skip this step and leave it chunky if you wish. If you do, chop the apples smaller so pieces of the skin will be easy to eat.

- 1½  to 2 pounds Macintosh apples, or other apples
- 2 tbsp organic grass-fed butter or extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch sea salt
- Ground peppercorn to taste
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Pinch allspice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or more to taste
- 5 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced

Quarter, core and dice the apples, leaving the skin intact.

Warm the butter or olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apple chunks and sauté until soft and starting to brown, stirring occasionally. If they start to stick before they start to brown, add the sea salt to draw out some moisture and prevent them from sticking, and reduce the heat to medium-low.

When the apples soften and begin to brown, add the peppercorn, red pepper flakes, allspice, and salt if you haven’t added it already. Stir and continue cooking for another minute.

Turn off the heat and add the apple cider vinegar. Stir to incorporate any brown bits from the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Cool slightly.

Transfer the apple mixture to a food processor, along with the sage. Puree until smooth, taking caution if the mixture is still hot. Taste for seasoning and spice; adjust if necessary.

Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for future use.

Yield: 1½ to 2 cups

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Golden Granola

A healthy and hearty bowl of granola for breakfast keeps you full all morning long.

Feel free to substitute the fruit or nuts for some of your favorites: raw pistachios, cashews, or Brazil nuts; or dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots or figs (unsulfured, unsweetened and without oil).

- 3 cups raw old-fashioned oats
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 to 2 tbsp raw honey or pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup dried unsweetened golden raisins
- 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- ¼ cup ground flax seed

Preheat oven to 350F.

Add oats to a large mixing bowl. In a saucepan, gently heat the coconut oil until it has liquefied. Add the honey or maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir to combine and pour the mixture over the oats. Toss to coat them completely, then spread them in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely.

Roughly chop the almonds and walnuts. Add them to a clean large mixing bowl with the cooled oats, dried fruit, shredded coconut and flax seed. Mix to combine the ingredients well.

Serve dry (as a snack) or with whole milk, hemp milk, rice milk, nut milk. Or spoon generously over a bowl of whole milk yogurt.

Store in an air-tight container.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash

During cold and flu season, my patients often ask me what they can eat to support their immune system. Orange foods like butternut squash are on the top of my list because they are good sources of vitamin A and beta-carotene, nutrients that can strengthen the immune system and protect against viral infections. Pregnant women should be careful about taking vitamin A in supplement form but should not worry about getting too much from foods.

Whenever I eat a winter squash or pumpkin, I always save the seeds. Full of nutrients and essential fatty acids, roasted pumpkin and squash seeds are some of my favorite snacks. They can be seasoned with all sorts of spices, but I enjoy these seeds simply dressed. A bit of olive oil and a dash of sea salt is all they need.

Besides being a great snack, these simple seeds also make tasty and decorative garnishes. Use them to finish soups, salads and brown rice risottos. 

- Whole butternut squash, peeled
- Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, first cold pressing
- Sea salt
- Ground peppercorn

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Peel the squash with a Y-shaped (or regular) vegetable peeler. Cut it in half, or in pieces if it is large, exposing the interior cavity. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and set them aside. Dice the squash into 1-centimeter cubes and transfer them to a baking pan or baking sheet.

Drizzle the squash cubes with enough olive oil to coat, then toss and arrange them in a single layer. Season with sea salt and ground peppercorn. Bake until the cubes are golden brown and the edges start to crisp, 45 minutes or more, stirring every 15 minutes. As soon as they are cool enough, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

While the squash is roasting, rinse the seeds and remove any stringy material. Drain well and transfer to a baking pan or baking sheet. Drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat, then toss and arrange the seeds in a single layer. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake, alongside the squash, until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until they begin to pop.

Serve the sweet and salty butternut squash cubes alone, as a savory side dish, or incorporate them into other dishes.

1. Butternut Squash Risotto: with butternut squash cubes, sliced leeks, rosemary and crumbled blue cheese (or grated aged Parmesan cheese or crumbled goat cheese)

2. Autumn Spinach Salad: fresh spinach leaves tossed with butternut squash cubes, roasted squash seeds, dried cranberries and red wine vinaigrette

3. Add the squash cubes to a black bean or beef burrito, with fresh tomato and cilantro

4. Use the squash cubes as a filling for nori rolls or summer rolls, along with strips of red bell pepper and tempeh (sauteed in extra virgin olive oil and drizzled with tamari)

5. Use the squash cubes to garnish a bowl of soup: black bean chili, tomato soup, potato leek soup, etc.

6. Add the squash cubes to a bowl of steel cut oatmeal for breakfast, with a sprinkle of cinnamon