Archive for October 2016

pumpkin, acorn, butternut, spaghetti, in that order: a catalogue of my favorite decorative (and edible) gourd recipes

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Acorn Squash & Bison Chili

Hey-O! The Blog went a little haywire while I was away from home celebrating our recent marriage with friends  & family in Chapel Hill, home of our alma mater UNC- Go Tarheels!

I’m back at home, settling in for some serious fall cooking-which is my favorite cooking- and some even more serious liver detoxing with fun, fall recipes! Fall is the best time to detox, because like the earth around us, we are shedding what is “dead” or no longer of use to our bodies. The best way to support general health, detox, and immunity is eating seasonally, which is why I support massive gourd consumption in the fall. I really try to limit alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and bad fats leading up to holidays. This produces a more enjoyable holiday season, and a more creative New Year’s Resolution than “Lose 5 pounds” or “Get healthy.”  I know that sometimes these large, tough, strong tasting autumnal fruits can seem overwhelming and impossible to cook, so I’ve catalogued some of my favorite recipes below.

FYI: Trader Joes sells by the gourd, not by the pound, so they are the best price I can find. The great thing about buying gourds and squashes is that you get to decorate with them until you eat them! They live for weeks as your table’s centerpiece!

Pumpkin

Enjoy a Pumpkin Smoothie, pumpkin chia pudding or a healthy PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) every morning this week!

Pumpkin Smoothie: 2 servings
1) Blend together: 1 banana, 1 handful spinach, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 2 cups of almond/hemp milk, generous cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 scoop macha powder or collagen for an extra boost!

Acorn Squash

Check out my Thanksgiving HIT, Acorn Squash Souffle 

And my Autumn staple, as published on Mind. Body. Green: Bison Chili in Acorn Squash

Butternut Squash

A big hit at any Friendsgiving is my Butternut Squash Sage Quinoa

My newest obsession is Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (Serves 4-6)

  1. Slice one butternut squash, 2 apples, and one onion
  2. Drizzle with coconut oil on baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes
  3. Remove from Oven and move into a pot with 4 cups/ 1 box Veggie broth and 2 inches of grated ginger
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes to incorporate flavors.
  5. Use immersion blender or food processor to blend soup until smooth!

5 steps to cooking your spaghetti squash in 10 minutes or less

  1. Stab with a fork 5 times and microwave for 5 minutes
  2. Remove Squash from microwave with oven mitts and cut it in half/remove seeds
  3. Place both halves in a dish with 1-2 inches of water in it and microwave for 3-5 more minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with baking soda to aid digestion and use a fork to scoop out spaghetti strands
  5. Season and serve with your favorite pasta sauce

 

 

 

Spaghetti Squash & Bison Meatballs with Pumpkin Tomato Sauce

spaghetti squash bison pumpkin meatballsIf you’re interested in a dinner that is completely different and delicious, I highly recommend this one. My spaghetti squash has been staring me in the face from its resting spot on our breakfast table for some time, so I had to bite the bullet this weekend and decided on good old Spaghetti & Meatballs. I had a pound of bison in the fridge, so I decided to use that for the meatballs. Bison has more protein and less fat than beef or pork, which is great for the waistline, but not great for keeping meatballs together. Breadcrumbs usually act as a meatball adhesive, but I had seen Joy Bauer, of morning show fame, use pumpkin puree as an alternative adhesive in turkey meatballs, so I decided to try it- and I’m s glad I did!

Everyone knows that you have to brown meatballs before cooking them in your pasta sauce, so I decided that if the pumpkin meatball was going to leach out its yummy contents, then the sauce might as well be deliberately pumpkin/tomato. This may sound like an unusual combination, but Trader Joe’s actually makes a pumpkin/butternut squash/tomato sauce called Autumnal Harvest. 

The result of mixing pumpkin and nutmeg with my traditional salty tomato sauce was incredible! It provides that salty/sweet umami flavor that I love. I buy pumpkin puree in bulk for all of its many purposes, since it has a high fiber content and delicious flavor, so it always excites me to find yet another use for it! We really loved this new sauce and definitely plan on making it again. You can eat it over Spaghetti Squash like we did, for a low carb option, or over regular pasta. If you do eat it over Spaghetti Squash, then I recommend a teaspoon of baking soda sprinkled on teach side of he squash to aid digestion! I really hope you try this recipe and enjoy something a little different and autumn flavored!

Spaghetti Squash & Bison Meatballs with Pumpkin-Tomato Sauce
Serves 4

1 Spaghetti Squash
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups of pumpkin puree1 lb. of bison
1 lb. of tomatoes (roasted)
6 carrots (roasted)
1/2 cup of olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
basil
2 tsp. Nutmeg
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Roast Tomatoes with garlic, and carrots, drizzle olive oil
  2. While Veggies roast, use your hands to mix 1/2 cup of pumpkin with 1 pound of Bison.
  3. Divide Bison into 4 equal parts and divide the 4 parts in half. This will give you 8 equal sized 1/8 lb meatballs. Roll them into balls between your palms.
  4. Heat a large skillet with olive oil on medium. When oil is hot, brown each side or your pumpkin meatball in the oil.
  5. After 30 minutes of roasting, puree your vegetables in a food processor. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil, basil, 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the mixture process until smooth and incorporated.
  6. Add the sauce mixture to your meatballs and turn heat to simmer.
  7. While your sauce and meatballs simmer together on the stove, puncture your spaghetti squash with a fork.
  8. Microwave your spaghetti squash is a glass bowl of water for 5 minutes so that it is soft enough to cut in half.
  9. Remove Spaghetti squash from the microwave, take out all seeds with a spoon and and your baking soda.
  10. Place each half of your spaghetti squash BACK in the microwave to cook for 5 more minutes until the squash is easily removed in strings with a fork*
  11. Serve with 2 large meatballs and heaping sauce on a bed of spaghetti squash! Enjoy!

*This is the fastest and best way to cook spaghetti squash. Letting in linger in the oven does nothing for the flavor or quality!

 

Superfood;Superwoman

Image result for pumpkin pie smoothie

Admittedly, the “superfood” craze is a little silly, but it still blows my mind that adding a little tablespoon of chia seeds to my morning smoothie can afford me enough protein and fiber to really keep me full through my strenuous workouts.

My newest smoothie addition is…

Maca, a root grown high in the Peruvian mountains, used by ancient Incas to increase both fertility and virility. Today, holistics prescribe Maca root powder for chronic fatigue syndrome, fertility issues, hormone imbalance, and low libido. It’s important to start off using Maca in very small doses since it IS a potent superfood. The really great thing about increasing energy and vitality via Maca is that it does not tax the adrenals the way that caffeine does. Your energy is much more slow burning and long lasting. This is great news for the large percentage of the population suffering with adrenal fatigue, which correlates with hormone imbalance in women and causes a lot of stress on our systems.

I’ve instagrammed my use of collagen and chlorophyll in fruit smoothies. To make my smoothies more “Seasonal” this fall, I use Maca in combination with 8 oz. of almond milk, 1 banana, 1/2 a cup of pumpkin puree, a slice of ginger root, a few drops of vanilla extract and 1 tbsp. of cinnamon to create a delicious pumpkin pie smoothie. I’m really looking forward to sharing more details with you about the direct effect of Maca on my quality of life!

Paleo Pumpkin Waffles with Warm Vanilla Bean Maple Syrup

paleo waffles

Wedding gifts are SO FUN- especially the totally impractical ones. Last weekend we used our waffle maker for the first time, and the result was glorious! Matt grew up making waffles, but this was my first time and I was shocked at the quality. It may just be the new waffle maker, but there are also a few nuances that improved our waffle game. We added 1/2 cup of pumpkin and some pumpkin pie spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, to a basic almond flour waffle recipe.  Then, I warmed the maple syrup on the stove in a saucepan with a vanilla bean to amp up the flavor. I also made a few pieces of turkey bacon to top it off and add that salty/sweet contrast that I need with brunch.

Paleo Pumpkin Waffles with Warm Vanilla Bean Maple Syrup

  1.  Preheat waffle iron and coat with butter/cooking spray
  2.  Combine dry ingredients
  3.  In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients
  4. Mix together and pour into the center of waffle iron

Vegan Balls of Energy

protein balls

I don’t know about you, but I am anything but a “ball of energy” this time of year. Every year around this time, Matt gets really excited about the giant bags of candy in super stores and buys one (or two) for our “trick-or -treaters.” I suspect (pray) being in a family-friendly neighborhood for the first time this year will bring us more than our previous record 4 trick-or-treaters.

Anyway, every year I also decide that having a bite-sized Butterfinger or a teeny-weeny Twix nightly wont bother my stomach or my monstrous aversion to sugar. Thus begins the slippery slope of the holiday season.

That’s why I am SO excited about my recipe for this perfectly nutritious snack-size “ball of energy.” You can eat 1 or 2 as a snack or dessert or have 2 or 3 for breakfast with coffee! It’s perfect for on-the-go energy and nutrition. I use plant-based protein, as opposed to whey, but I assume whey protein powder would work the same way, since this is a no-bake snack. The taste reminds me of those No Bake Oatmeal Cookies from my childhood, but these pack a punch of protein with no sugar, additives, or packaging! I made these this Sunday, so now I have a healthy go-to snack and dessert for the week. They also give me a small energy-packed morsel to enjoy before for my morning workouts!

I’ve got to be honest, it’s one week after I finished Whole 30, and almost everything in my fridge is STILL homemade! I may have the luxury of a great work schedule and no kids just yet, but I have really worked hard this year on what nutrition is right for me and my family and I’m proud of myself. Sometimes that includes a few store-bought brands, but more often then not, it involves a lot of whole food ingredients + meal prep. And I’ve happily mastered that… for now! I hope you enjoy this new recipe!

Vegan Energy Balls (Makes 20 +)

4 scoops of your favorite protein powder ( I use plant-based chocolate)
2 cups of organic oats
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup of maple syrup or agave
1 cup of almond butter

  1. Mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a large bowl.
  2. Form into balls by rubbing  both sides with your cup-shaped palm.
  3. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet
  4. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until set
  5. Now they are ready to eat and be kept in glass tupperware in your fridge!