Thursday, December 8, 2011

Delectable Delicata Squash

It's like Christmas morning for me when I open up my CSA box, and the other day, I received two colorful Delicata Squash.  I sadly forgot to take any pictures, but they are an oblong, yellow squash with green or orange vertical striping.  I don't want to steal other people's images, but if you're still curious, do a web search or check out your local market - they're in season in California right now!  

I love winter squash, but Acorn and Butternut have always been my staples.  The Delicata variety was new to me and I had no idea what to do with them, so I turned to the web to find a recipe to try.  I found many that sounded delicious, but I didn't want to go to the grocery store when I already had lots of produce at home, so I kept searching for a recipe that I could tweak to include what was in my kitchen: cauliflower, carrots, and half a can of coconut milk (left over from a Vegan Pumpkin Bread I made).  Below is what I came up with, and let me say that it was delicious with some coconut brown rice!  Sorry there are not any photos, the dish was very yellow and did not photograph well at all.

Oh, a word to the wise: when cooking with turmeric, use utensils that you don't mind getting stained.  It will turn everything it touches yellow.  For more info on turmeric's health benefits, see this article by Dr. Andrew Weil.

Coconut Curry Delicata and Cauliflower
(serves 2-4 people)

1/2 onion, chopped
2t minced garlic
2t minced ginger
1T olive oil
1 delicata squash, seeds scraped out, then diced (skin on)
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 carrots, chopped 
2t cumin
2t turmeric
1t salt
1/4t black pepper 

dash of red pepper flakes (more if you like things spicy!)
1/2 can coconut milk
2T shredded coconut
1t lime or lemon juice

-In medium frying pan, heat oil. On medium heat, add onions, garlic, ginger & delicata. 
-Cook until onion becomes translucent, then add carrot and cauliflower. 
-Cook for about 4 min, with the lid on. 
-Add spices (up to the red pepper flakes in the recipe) and mix thoroughly until evenly coated. 
-Stir and cook for a minute, then add the coconut milk. Mix so that there is no more white from the coconut milk, the spices will change the color.
-On medium-low heat, put the lid on & cook for 5 min.
-Add the coconut milk, shredded coconut, and citrus of your choice. Stir & continue cooking, lid on, until squash & cauliflower are fork soft.
-Serve immediately over brown rice or quinoa (I cooked mine in diluted coconut milk) and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

Ready for the pot luck!
We had an afternoon pot luck party at work last week, and I wanted to bring something healthy, home made, and seasonally appropriate.  I love pumpkin bread, but have not been able to eat it for a while since almost all the recipes I see include eggs. I searched online, and thanks to Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life I was able to find a recipe to make and enjoy! She has tons of recipes on her site that sound amazing, and while I'm not vegan (just allergic to eggs) I find that vegan baking recipes are the easiest for me to attempt since I don't have to worry about finding an egg substitute.

Below is her recipe, although I made a couple of tweaks to make it even healthier.  I substituted applesauce for the oil, and added in some whole wheat flour.  The pumpkin bread smelled SO good as it was baking, and tasted delicious right out of the oven, as well as the next day. Once it started to get a little soft, I found that putting it in my toaster oven and topping it with butter or honey was a great way to continue enjoying it throughout the week. Be warned: this recipe makes a lot!

Piping hot pumpkin bread

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

You will need 2 8″ x 4″ loaf pans

1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup flaked coconut

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8″ x 4″ loaf pans.
-Spread walnuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
-In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. -Add the pumpkin puree, applesauce, and coconut milk, and mix until all of the flour is absorbed. 
-Fold in the flaked coconut and toasted walnuts. 
-Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
-Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
-Remove from oven, and cover loaves tightly with foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. 
-Remove foil, and turn out onto a cooling rack. Tent loosely with the foil, and allow to cool completely.
-Slice and enjoy!

Spoiled food is no fun!

Do you ever go to the market and buy a bunch of delicious-looking fruits and vegetables, only to have things spoil before you can eat it all?  Personally, I hate throwing out food.  Even putting it into the compost makes me twinge a bit.  But sometimes I get a little excited at the market and come home with way more food than I can eat.  Don't we all?  ;-)

When I get home, I store my newly purchased fruits and vegetables the best way I know, which is usually how I saw my mom store things when I was growing up.  Mom was right about a couple of things, like not washing fruits and vegetables until just before eating, and never putting tomatoes in the refrigerator.  But according to THIS LIST from The Ecology Center's Berkeley Farmers' Markets on how to store your produce without any plastic, Mom was wrong about a couple things (sorry, Mom!).  I've now printed the list and have it posted on my fridge, so I can look up how to store things right when I get home from the market.  Here's hoping my future purchases will last longer now!