Sunday, December 8, 2013

Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash Salad with MacIntosh Apples

This delicious salad was the main dish of our Thanksgiving meal and thoroughly enjoyed!

Butternut squash, spiced with clove, cinnamon and allspice and roasted then tossed with a mix of kale and spinach, red onions, chopped apples both dry and fresh, a handful of pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries and then tossed in mild creamy dressing of apple juice, sage, garlic and onions with a slight sweetness of added dates.

This salad just screams fall harvest making use of seasonal vegetables and colors.

The recipe was adapted from the new book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live Cookbook, and like all the recipes of his that I have tried, is certainly a winner in our home. I'm looking forward to cooking my way through this book.

The best thing about his recipes is that I don't have to worry about them being healthy and I mean truly healthy not just some fad based on someone's opinion. Dr. Fuhrman puts so much emphasis on nutritional research that I don't think anyone else can truly compete in this area. He has enlisted the help of some top chefs to utilize his knowledge and guidelines and put together some winning recipes. I know that the recipes are designed for total wellness and having had such good results with every recipe tried so far, I also know that I don't have to worry about them tasting good. Two big thumbs up from here.

So on to the recipe:

Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash Salad with MacIntosh Apples

Recipe adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live- Cookbook

Serves 4

For the Dressing:

1 clove of garlic
1 tablspoon chopped shallots
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard (optional)
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice or water
2 tablespoons raw almond butter
1 Medjool date, pitted and stemmed
1/2 cup parsley
6 fresh sage leaves

Combine dressing ingredients in a high speed blender until well combined. Set aside.

For the Butternut Squash:

12 ounces butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch diced pieces
1 tablespoon coconut or date sugar (optional)
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
pinch ground allspice
pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup of unsweetened apple juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a big bowl, toss the squash with the sugar, spices and apple juice until well coated. Place the mixture in a roasting pan, cover with foil and roast until the squash is caramelized and slightly browned but still firm when tested with a fork. About 15 mins total but stir/toss about half way through.

Note: If you are fortunate to find fresh diced squash in your grocery store, usually in 32 ounce portions, go ahead and double this portion of the recipe. I guarantee the extra roasted squash will not go to waste. It's so good!

For the Salad:

4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 apples of choice, (Winesap is what was called for in the original recipe but I used MacIntosh)
2 tablespoons chopped dried apples
1/2 of a red onion, sliced into fine rings
3 cups spinach, sliced
3 cups kale, sliced

While the squash is roasting, combine the salad ingredients in a big bowl.

When the squash is ready, toss it with the salad dressing until well coated and then add to the salad, toss and serve right away. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. You can substitute sweet potatoes, parsnips or any other type of squash you desire as well. It's all good.

And if you are looking for a nice dessert for this meal, check out the previous recipe for the Cranberry Apple Tart!


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Monday, December 2, 2013

Cranberry Apple Tart

Well, I have to say the time has just flown since my last post and I must apologize. The good news is that this is the year my health has improved to the point where I could return to my passion, which is interior design and that has kept me very busy with deadlines these last few months. I have to say I think a great deal of credit has gone to my mostly improved eating habits. I can't say I'm above backsliding into some old habits now and then but for the most part, I eat quite a bit differently than I used to.

When it came time for Thanksgiving this year, we thought to our favorite recent Thanksgiving meals and decided that a plant based dinner, mostly raw is what suits us best. Because raw and plant based foods are so filling and there is only the two of us, we spread out the celebration over the weekend instead of all at once in one meal and that was very rewarding.

I'm starting here with sharing the dessert first because... well, you have to have priorities. ;-)

 Cranberry Apple Tart with a Caramel Drizzle

Very simple and also very delicious. Fresh apples, cranberries, a pear, dates, raisins, nuts and sweetener of choice and you've got a wonderful impressive tart in the bag. No one even has to know it's raw but your friends and family that want to avoid gluten, and dairy will surely appreciate it. The cranberries add a little tartness and quite frankly, the filling could be used as a cranberry apple relish/ sauce as well.

2 cups almonds
1 cup dates, pitted and stemmed- soft
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all the above in a food processor and process until crumbly and the mixture sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Be careful not to over process though to the point of creating a nut butter. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan or pie pan. Freeze until ready to assemble.

Tip: If you have leftover crust add a little dried coconut and some chopped walnuts and set aside for topping your favorite banana ice cream, cereal or fruit bowl. So delicious!

1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 apples, peeled and cored, reserve 1/2 an apple for topping
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup of dates, pitted, stemmed and soft (soak in water if necessary to soften)
1/2 cup of raisins, soft (soak in water for about 30 minutes until plump and drain)
1/4 cup coconut or agave nectar
pinch of cinnamon

Place all but 1/2 an apple and half the lemon juice in a food processor. Blend until well mixed but chunky. You can do a couple of things at this point: Rough chop the rest of the apple and stir into the mix or do like I did and slice thinly the 1/2 apple and toss with the remaining lemon juice and decorate the top of the tart right before serving.

Remove tart crust from freezer and remove the tart from the pan. It should be well set. Spoon mixture into the tart, and either decorate top and serve or return to the freezer until serving.

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup of dates, seeded and stemmed, soft
2 tablespoons coconut butter
3 tablespoons coconut or agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons filtered water

Blend until well combined and to desired consistency. I actually start this in the food processor and then finish in the Vitamix to get it really smooth.

Poor into a nozzle tipped container or use a plastic bag with the corner snipped off to get control over the drizzle. 

Serve up your tart with a drizzle over top and don't forget to add a little on each slice.

This cuts much easier when frozen so I recommend cutting into slices and then defrosting to serve. The tart will keep about 3 days covered well in the fridge or for longer keeping, freeze.

I hope you give this one a try. It's a nice twist on the old standard apple.

Keep an eye out for the rest of our holiday dishes from the weekend. They are great for this fall time of year.

Happy Holidays!!

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