January 28, 2012

Simple, Healthy Dessert

In the cold of winter, the soothing warmth of sweet vegetables eases my day. After sifting through seed packets and organizing the planting of peas, kale, cucumbers and winter squash for the upcoming spring, my neighbor and I remembered something: we want to try to grow sweet potatoes! Even in this cold Vermont climate, we have hope that a long-season tuber can flourish. 

After such excitement, I started experimenting with the different ways to eat sweet potatoes. The first one is a fabulous dessert. Its rich flavor is astounding compared with the simplicity of its ingredients. 

Try it out and stay tuned for more recipes such as: South American Sweet Potato Avocado Ceviche; Italian Sweet Potato Frittata; Indonesian Sweet Potato Coconut Tempeh; Sweet Potato Pesto Corn Biscuits; Dominican Kidney Bean Sweet Potato Stew

Chocolate Sweet Potato Bites
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Rinse a sweet potato, poke it a few times with a fork, and place it in a baking dish.
Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.
Turn off oven.

Cut sweet potato open lengthwise, but do not cut it all the way through so that you can close it back up.

Spoon 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of coconut oil into the center.
Sprinkle in: 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder; 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
Add a handful of chocolate chips (I like Sunspire grain-sweetened ones). If you prefer to avoid chocolate, choose unsweetened carob chips.

Close it up and return it to the oven for 5 minutes so that everything melts.

Take out the treat, slice it length-wise into slices approximately 2 inches wide.

Place little slices on a plate and enjoy! I think it's like chocolate pudding from heaven! Each slice will freeze well.

January 15, 2012

Bake pie for comfort and community

The cold reminds me to keep warm, tend to my home, and remember to rest as the animals do. To honor this hibernation time, make space in your day to slow down and bake a pie. 
When we cook, we gain the opportunity to connect with the ingredients that will nourish us. As we peel fruits and vegetables, knead dough, and smell spices, our senses awaken to the delight of the delicious food to come. Use your imagination!

By baking this pie, you create a whole meal, which is ready to be sliced and shared with friends and family. As we eat together, we remember the importance of community. Take time to sit down for dinner with others. Silently savor the flavors for a few moments. Talk about them together. Feel the support that can come from sharing food with companions. This connection can provide true nourishment.

Here's a simple pie crust recipe made with leftover grains. 
Mix the following ingredients together: 
2 cups whole grain spelt flour or rice flour 
½ cup leftover brown rice, quinoa, millet or oatmeal
1 teaspoon salt

Make a well in the center of the bowl and add: 
¼ cup water 
¼ cup vegetable oil (I like organic sunflower oil) 
1 egg 
Incorporate all ingredients together and add a splash of water of needed. Dough needs to be firm enough that you can pick it up with your hands and shape it into a flat disc.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Grease a 9 inch cake or pie pan with vegetable oil.

Spread three quarters of the dough evenly into the bottom and along the sides of a 9 inch round pie or cake pan. Save one quarter to crumble over the top.

Pour filling into crust - see filling ideas below.

Use your fingers to spread the remaining dough over the top of the vegetables to make a crumble topping. It does not have to be perfect. Leave some air holes.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests clean.

Here are some ideas for fillings, both savory and sweet. You can include spices like thyme and garlic to strengthen immunity or ginger root and cinnamon to stimulate circulation.

>>Caramelized onions and collard greens
>>Roasted roots - try turnips, beets, and carrots
>>Steamed, pureed sweet potatoes with salt, pecans and 2 beaten eggs
>>Ground turkey cooked with braised kale, garlic, and thyme
>>Cooked pinto beans with cumin, corn and roasted butternut squash 
>>Crimini mushrooms, celeriac and green cabbage sauteed in ghee
>>Coarsely chopped red apples tossed with cinnamon and maple syrup

To achieve a flaky crust, bake your pie at 425 degrees for the first 20 minutes and then lower oven temperature to 375 degrees for the next 20 to 30 minutes.

Questions? Contact me as you assemble your creation. 

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