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Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Energy Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

When most of you land on our website, your have come to expect yet another gluten free dish, ideally in a baked version. Don’t worry, we are still developing gluten free recipes and plan on doing so for some time to come. However, in our own home, we also prepare many raw food dishes as well. We especially enjoy the many nutritional benefits they offer.

I was first introduced to raw foods about 25+ years ago,  through friends and acquaintances and through their convincing arguments, enthusiastically  purchased a champion juicer. I loved making vegetable and fruit juices, as well as the occasional nut butters. Some of the resulting vegetable pulp was used in making delicious vegetable burgers, blended with spices, seeds and some rice, or spelt. But my all time favorite comfort foods have always been salads.  Now, I am not talking about the currently popular “tossed meals”, overflowing with the addition of too much meat and cheese, and, of course, the inevitable croutons.  I am talking about salads that are primarily made with a variety of greens, sprouts, carrots, avocados and some fruit. In those days, I was completely unaware of being gluten intolerant and, no doubt, consumed too many gluten containing breads, crackers, etc. No one ever talked about gluten intolerance, or celiac disease. In fact, everyone talked about adding whole grains to one’s diet. Some health books espoused this untruth and many followed these teachings, myself included. At the time, book selections involving nutrition and health, were far more limited than they are today. But Ann Wigmore’s books were readily found in most health food and book stores.  I read most of them and found her to be  a fascinating lady. In her autobiography “Why Suffer? How I Overcame Illness and Pain Naturally,” Ann Wigmore (1909-1994) recalls observing her grandmother using herbs and natural remedies, growing up  as a child in Lithuania. As an adult, she began testing various whole foods and dietary approaches, which she credits with solving her medical problems and changing her life.

Energy Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Together with  Viktoras Kulvinskas, Ann Wigmore co-founded the Hippocrates Health Institute back in 1968 . She was an early pioneer in the use of wheat grass juice and living foods for detoxifying and healing the body, mind and spirit. In case you are not familiar with her work, you may want to check out two  living food lifestyle and health facilities that continue to spread her teachings.  One is located here in New Mexico, the other program is located in Puerto Rico.  Today, Brian Clement owns the Hippocrates Health Institute, which he moved from Boston to West Palm Beach, Florida.

If you are familiar with her teachings, you already know that she recommends a raw living food lifestyle to heal from disease. [ Please note, that we are not advocating a particular program to heal from disease. If you find yourself ill, do your homework, and, if necessary, consult with an accredited health professional of your choice.] It should also be mentioned, that we are not living a 100% raw lifestyle, but generally abide by a whole foods lifestyle ,with the exception of the occasional recipe development project. All we know is that if you have celiac disease, are gluten intolerant, or just sensitive to gluten, please, do yourself a favor, and eliminate it strictly, completely and permanently. Even the occasional small ingestion of gluten can leave a residual and damaging effect that can last for months. You don’t have to necessarily exhibit symptoms either, although most do.

Energy Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Now to my favorite raw soup recipe. Aren’t we all looking for a little more energy around now? This tasty and very simple to prepare soup offers a lot of that.  When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, juices and smoothies offered an easy to digest and prepare alternative.  Always having had an interest in nutrition, I read countless books on raw food cuisine. The original “energy soup” recipe recommended by Ann Wigmore, calls for the addition of rejuvelac, a fermented beverage made from sprouted wheat berries. Some say, that there is no, or little gluten in the finished product, but I personally would want proof, and no has been able to offer me that. As a result this recipe does not include any form of grains, gluten free, or otherwise – the emphasis is strictly on organic greens, sprouts, cucumber, lemon, garlic, herbs and one fruit. It is best to use a high powered blender to achieve that desired creamy consistency in the end product. A Vitamix, or Blendtec would be perfect, but we are currently using a Ninja blender, which does the job adequately. . . for now.

Ingredients for 2 large servings:

  • One head of organic romaine lettuce
  • Large handful of organic baby spinach
  • 1 organic cucumber, peeled, cut into smaller chunks
  • 1 organic avocado
  • Leaves from several sprigs of Thyme
  • small handful of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 organic lemon, peeled and quartered
  • 1 organic apple (any variety), quartered and seeds removed
  • 1 cup of your favorite sprouts (sunflower, alfalfa, radish, etc.)
  • 3/4 cup organic cherry tomatoes
  • a few small pieces of dried dulse, (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups of purified water

Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, scoop out the flesh, and add it to your blender. Top with the remaining ingredients (tomatoes, cucumber, romaine, spinach,  apple pieces, lemon, sprouts, garlic, thyme, dulse and the purified water). Pulse several times, incorporating the ingredients and then blend for a couple of minutes at the highest setting until everything is well blended and creamy.

Energy Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Pour into your favorite soup bowls, garnish with some fresh herbs and enjoy right away. It is a wonderfully tasty and delicious alternative to regular soup, and of a slightly heavier consistency than green smoothies. If you enjoy this soup, or green smoothies, also plan on growing some of the vegetables in your own garden this Spring and Summer.

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This is a fabulous dessert, which makes both a wonderful birthday/celebration cake as well as a delicious finish to any dinner. You only need a few basic ingredients, many of which can be substituted for whatever you have on hand. We used these ingredients because they were easily available to us at the moment.  The combination of gluten free rice crispy cereal,  chocolate chips, coconut milk ice cream and fresh fruit, invokes images of fun and childhood birthday parties. Many years ago, we used to make ice cream birthday cakes, using rice ice cream (Rice Dream), dressing it up with little umbrellas, fresh fruit and lots of candles. Just be forewarned, placing lots of candles too close to tiny paper umbrellas has, on occasion, presented some problems. Children and adults alike love this particular cake, especially, if you are limited to eating gluten, dairy and/or egg free.

The steps to make it are very simple and easy, you just need to set aside a little time for freezing the cake.

Ingredients needed:

  • 4 cups of gluten free rice crispies (Koala Crisp, by EnviroKidz)
  • 1/2 cup of gluten free chocolate chips
  • 1 pint of Purely Decadent Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream, slightly softened
  • 1 pint of Trader Joe’s Vanilla frozen Greek yoghurt, slightly softened (for a dairy free option, just use the vanilla coconut milk ice cream)
  • 3 fresh Nectarines, washed and thinly sliced (peaches, strawberries, or other fresh fruit of your choice)

Melt the chocolate chips over low heat. Mix with the rice crispies. Lightly grease the 9-inch spring form pan with a little butter. Fill the chocolate rice crispies mixture into the spring form, creating an even layer both on the bottom as well as the sides, which should be about 1-1/2 inches in height. Fill with the chocolate coconut ice cream, spreading it out evenly and smoothing out the top. This will be your bottom layer. Cover with a layer of the frozen vanilla Greek yoghurt (or vanilla coconut milk ice cream of your choice). Place the dessert in the freezer for about 2 hours.

Remove from the freezer and top the cake with a layer of sliced nectarines before serving.

This makes for a great dessert any time of the year, but especially during the heat of the summer, when the mere thought of turning on the oven becomes unbearable. It is delicious, and the best part is, that it is gluten and egg-free! If you wish to make this recipe dairy free as well, just substitute the Greek yoghurt with vanilla coconut milk  ice cream.

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Inspired by our last visit to Paris, here is our recipe for our own favorite savory galette. There are truly endless ways of preparing a filling for these galettes, only limited by what you have available at the moment. Since we find ourselves in the midst of Summer, tomatoes and herbs are generally readily available. Alas, our own garden was not as productive this year, due to the excessive heat and complete absence of any rain. We could only add a few small tomatoes from our own garden and purchased the rest.

During our visit to Paris, the savory galettes were intriguing, reminding us somewhat of German Salzkuchen, a Swabian specialty in the Southwestern part of Germany.  This dish is by no means even similar to a galette, since the crust is made with a yeasted dough, except for the filling, which consists of sour cream, salt, eggs and herbs, sometimes found in the savory galettes offered in the patisseries of Paris. International cuisines tend to mingle in the close proximity of borders, that have happened to change many times over the  last couple of hundred years. Each region tends to lay claim to a particular dish, or method of cooking, when, in reality, memories tend to blur, and creative cooks draw inspiration from many areas, across borders and cultural boundaries. So many of our own recipes reflect this, in that they incorporate the best of our own experiences. Learning to prepare our own family meals entirely gluten free, we again had to draw inspiration from a multitude of different sources, incorporating the aspect of nutritional balance, and yet keep alive a sense of simplicity and fun.

This recipe reflects both the simplicity of preparation and cultural diversity in the ingredients used, and the combination of flavors created. This recipe is gluten free but does contain dairy. If this presents a problem, there is the possibility of using  plain coconut yoghurt, as well as any of the dairy free cheeses available to you.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. tapioca flour
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. rice bran
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. almond meal
  • 1 tsp. evaporated cane juice
  • 3 Tbsp. Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 7 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Filling:

  • 4-5 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • leaves of 2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 7-8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • approx. 2 oz. mozzarella cheese, finely grated
  • approx. 2 oz. raw cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. Greek-style yoghurt

Preparation:

Place all the ingredients for the crust in a food processor and pulse until it forms into a ball. The dough will be very soft to the touch. This is normal.  Remove, cover in cling wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and slice the tomatoes and chop the herbs. Set aside.

Grate the cheese and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg and the yoghurt, and whisk to a creamy consistency.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a larger size cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Dust the parchment covered cookie sheet with a little rice flour and roll the dough out directly on the parchment paper, into an approximately 12-13 inch circle.

Place the shredded cheese and herbs on top of the dough, leaving about a 2-inch edge free. Top with the sliced tomatoes, allowing the edges to overlap in concentric circles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold in the edges of the crust over the outer edges of the tomatoes, making sure to smooth out any potential breaks in the dough where the filling could leak out. Now slowly pour the liquid egg/yoghurt filling over the tomatoes.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cheese filling has set.

Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes before cutting it with a pizza cutter. This makes four generous servings, if you are very hungry, and want to serve it as a dinner combined with a salad. This could serve as many as eight, i.e. as an appetizer, or as a small accompaniment to a meal.

Believe us when we tell you that this galette will disappear before your eyes, almost as quickly as you manage to slice it. It took extreme self-control to photograph it, since we made it on a day when all we had time to eat was a small breakfast that morning and this was dinner.

We served it alongside a large green Romaine salad, topped with shredded carrots, cabbage, small orange tomatoes, fresh apricots, sprinkled with a small amount of Parmesan cheese and tossed with a gluten free Balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Enjoy this simple, yet delicious, Internationally (German, French, Italian) inspired dish!

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One of our neighbors introduced us to a non-vegetarian version of this dish. We loved the flavor of the spices she selected and wanted to make this in a vegetarian version to share with all of you. If your garden is offering an abundance of zucchini, squash, peppers, tomatoes, etc. this dish is perfect for highlighting any number of these vegetables in it.

The word enchilada, in this case, is somewhat misleading, since our dish does not contain any tortillas, but calls for rice instead. The dish nevertheless tastes just like a typical enchilada dish and offers an easy solution for us gluten free folks. I am sorry to say, but it has been our experience that commercially produced gluten free tortillas just don’t hold out as well during the cooking process. Instead, we used the following ingredients for this dish:

  • 2 large organic zucchinis, finely cubed
  • 2 organic green chilies (with seeds), finely chopped
  • 1 organic red bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (about 4 large tomatoes)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
  • 3 sprigs fresh oregano, finely cut
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, finely cut
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder, medium strength
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Himalaya salt
  • approx. 3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 3 oz. Pepper jack Cheese, shredded
  • 3 cups of brown rice, cooked in 6 cups of water
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Prepare the rice by rinsing it well and cooking it in 6 cups of water, with 1/2 tsp. of salt added. 
While the rice is cooking, prepare all the vegetables and herbs.
Add about 1-1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil to a large sauce pan. Bring to a medium heat and add all the vegetables, herbs and seasoning. Turn down the heat, cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Set aside.
Prepare a large glass casserole dish by spreading out 1-1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil in the bottom of the dish. Add half of the cooked rice to the dish, spreading it out evenly. Top with all of the prepared vegetables, herbs and seasoning. Use half of the shredded cheese and sprinkle over the vegetables. Top with the remaining rice. Sprinkle with paprika and the rest of the cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Serve immediately!
You may wish to add your favorite salad and garnish with a spicy Southwest salsa.

New Mexico Vegetable Chili ("Mock") Enchilada

Enjoy! Let us know how you like it.

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DSCN1294

This is a simple and very easy to make vegetarian lunch, or dinner.  Especially, when you are in a hurry. It can be made in less than half an hour, and fits the bill for a quick bite of lunch,  during one of our very busy days here at home.  You could use any number of vegetables for this dish, so don’t let a lack of a particular vegetable stop you from making this dish. We used the following:

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 zucchini, chopped into small pieces

6 stalks of baby broccoli, stems cut into small pieces

7 sprigs of thyme, cut into smaller pieces

1 large heirloom tomato, cut into small pieces

About 15 small cherry, or heirloom tomatoes

A couple of handfuls of spinach

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

olive oil

1/2 tsp. Himalaya salt

Black pepper, to taste

Seaweed Gomasio Seasoning, optional

1 packet of Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta

Prepare the pasta following the directions on the package.

Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Spaghetti

Add the pasta to the already boiling water, and stir it frequently while it is cooking to prevent the pasta from sticking together. This pasta turns out really nice, but, once cooked, be sure to rinse it with lots of water to remove the starchy residue. Set aside. This holds true not just for the spaghetti, but all the other rice pasta alternatives. (I am sure that some of you have given up on this particular gluten free pasta, because it leaves such a starchy residue in the cooking water.)

Cut Veggies

In a large frying pan, or wok, heat the coconut oil and add the chopped onions and garlic. Turn down the heat slightly to prevent any excess browning. The onions and garlic should be translucent and golden in color. Add the zucchini, cherry tomatoes,  and broccoli. Drizzle with some olive oil and let cook, turning frequently, for a couple of minutes. Then add the spinach, tomato and thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Tomato with Thyme

Incorporate all the ingredients well and add a little more olive oil. Let cook for another couple of minutes. The vegetables need to stay fresh, and not overcooked.

Veggies with Spinach

Then add the prepared and well rinsed pasta to the vegetables, mixing all the ingredients well. Again, cook for another couple of minutes to let the pasta be infused with the wonderful flavors of the vegetables.

Cooked Rice Spaghetti with Vegetables

Enjoy this simple Mediterranean-inspired meal for lunch, or dinner.

Mediterranean-style Rice Pasta

What is your favorite gluten free pasta?

If you are exploring raw food options, another great way to serve this same dish is to use kelp noodles (prepared according to package directions),  served with the same vegetables, but fresh and raw.  Seaweed Gomasio seasoning  ingredients: sesame seeds, sea salt, kombu, dulse and nori) makes a great addition to either version of this meal.

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This month marks the one year anniversary of our blog. We decided to commemorate this momentous occasion with a story about a food that most people are extremely passionate about — chocolate!

As the weather patterns are readying themselves for winter and are becoming more erratic throughout the country, the temperatures begin to dip rather low. This is a time when many of us struggle to adapt to these changes. Warming foods and drinks are making their way back into our kitchens, beckoning us to invite family and friends to stay awhile.

One of the “comfort foods” so many of us lean on is chocolate, and, during these very cold days, hot chocolate comes to mind. Many of us have fond memories of our first introduction to it, recalling a particular taste, flavor, scent, or even an event that we cherished. When I was little, on special occasions, with all of us grandkids gathered around the table, my Oma (grandmother) used to serve hot chocolate in a little teapot which was shaped like a cat. It looked very similar to this one.

Erphila Cat Teapot, by Moorcraft

That image immediately comes to mind when I think of hot chocolate. Gathering around grandma’s table, the warmth of her little house, and her serving steaming hot chocolate to all of us. How about you, do you have any special memories around hot chocolate?

Whether you like to nibble on your favorite cacao concoction, or indulge in your favorite chocolate drink, all chocolate creations start with the humble cacao bean.

In our research of chocolate, we learned that the word cacao itself originates from the Aztec language, Nahuatl; the orginal word being “cacahuatl”, which also means “bitter water.”

The Theobroma cacao tree is a relatively small evergreen tree, native to the tropical regions of the Americas, or Africa. It is thought to originate in the Amazon region of the Americas, but today, is widely distributed and cultivated throughout Central America and Mesoamerica. The top ten (in the order listed) cacao producing countries are the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Cameroon, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, New Guinea and Malaysia. It also grows wild in the foothills of the Andes, at an elevation of approximately 650 – 1300 feet, throughout the Amazon and Orinoco river regions.

Cacao trees and pods, by Claus Bunks

These trees thrive in a rather humid climate with abundant rainfall and rich soil. They prefer an overhead shade canopy. A typical cacao tree begins to bear fruit after about 4 – 5 years. When fully mature, each may grow several thousand flowers in a year, but only produce about 20 pods, or fruit.

Cacao pods in varying stages of ripening

When you consider that it takes about 10 pods (bearing anywhere from 300 to 600 seeds) to produce 2.2 pounds of cacao paste, you realize that chocolate is truly considered a delicacy, to be consumed in small quantities. In fact, the word “theobroma” literally means “food of the gods.”

Cacao beans

Chocolate, as we know it today, is made from these cacao beans, which have been dried and many times roasted.  Some beautiful photographs regarding cacao trees can be found here. If you find yourself in the perfect climate (hot and humid) you might want to entertain growing a tree or two yourself. An interesting guide, as well as additional photo footage, can be found at this site.

The first evidence of a hot chocolate drink, or at least something closely resembling it, can be traced all the way back to the Mayan Empire, around 1100 B.C. The Mayan’s version, made from the paste of ground cacao beans, mixed with cornmeal, chili peppers, water and vanilla bean, was served cold. This drink was prepared by pouring the mixture back and forth between two jars, until a foam formed. The History Channel has a brief video introduction to the cacao drink here. The first Europeans, when introduced to this Mayan chocolate, thought it was an acquired taste, noting that it was spicy and bitter.

The first Europeans’ introduction to chocolate did not come until the 16th century, with the arrival of the conquistadors and Hernan Cortez in South and Central America. Cortez brought the first cacao beans back to Spain in 1528. Chocolate only slowly grew in popularity in Europe, appearing in the court of King Charles V, and  then developing into a favorite drink of the Spanish nobility. For centuries, hot chocolate was consumed only by royalty, aristocrats and wealthy merchants.

Hot Chocolate served amongst Aristocrats

Because at that time, cacao was only grown in South America, it was very expensive, and sometimes given as part of a dowry. Cacao beans were also used as a form of currency by the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures.

It was not until the 17th century that the sweet tasting chocolate became a popular luxury among the European upper class. It was then mixed with cane sugar and served hot. If you are interested in studying the history of chocolate in greater detail, the beautiful people at What’s Cooking America have written this extensive article on the History of Chocolate. Wikipedia, of course, is a treasure trove of information for anything chocolate and you can read up more on this subject here.

In America, we use the terms “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa” interchangeably. However, in many other countries, “hot cocoa” is made from cocoa powder, while “hot chocolate” is made from melted bar chocolate and milk.

Hot chocolate was first introduced to North America in the 17th century by Dutch colonists. However, the first shop selling chocolate to a wider audience did not appear until the 1750’s.

Our culture’s fascination with chocolate has not been lost to our movie industry either. Joanne Harris’ book “Chocolat” was made into a movie starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. If you have not seen it yet, rent a copy and check it out for yourself. It is a charming movie taking place in a small French village, telling the story of a chocolatier, played by Juliette Binoche, and her interactions with the locals following the opening of her specialty chocolate business.

Johnny Depp again starred in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, another remake of the famous book by Roald Dahl. Johnny Depp’s performance is without equal. A movie trailer clip can be seen here.

An excerpt from the movie “The Polar Express”, featuring the “hot chocolate dance,” can be viewed here.

It goes without saying that there are many many books on chocolate. Everyone has their favorite one. My own personal favorite would have to be “The Great Book of Chocolate,” by David Lebovitz. He is the former pastry chef of Chez Panisse, and his obvious love and passion for the subject matter is presented with humor and extensive information on how chocolate is made, many tips on buying and storing chocolate, as well as some fabulous recipes for good measure. It comes highly recommended.

The other book that we would recommend is called “The True History of Chocolate,” by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe. Both authors are anthropologists and present a comprehensive and well researched book on the history of chocolate. A must read and highly recommended.

Without further ado, this brings us to the simplicity of making our version of gluten free, dairy free hot chocolate.

These ingredients are essential (makes 2 servings, please adjust the proportions according to the number of servings you wish to create):

1 packet of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Callets

2-1/2 cups So Delicious Coconut Milk

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1/4 tsp. cinnamon powder (optional)

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Callets

In a double boiler, over low heat, melt 14 pieces of the chocolate callets.

 

In a separate sauce pan, heat the coconut milk. Add the melted chocolate and mix well. If desired, add the optional ingredients of cayenne and cinnamon. No sugar is necessary, as the callets are already sweetened.

Hot Chocolate with Coconut Milk

For those who tolerate and desire dairy, the addition of some whipped cream would provide another variation of this recipe.

Enjoy, and keep warm during this holiday season!

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The days are getting cooler, in fact, it has been downright cold – with nightime temperatures hovering in the teens and low twenties. The beast, our fireplace, is being fed regularly. We can barely keep up with the demand for more wood. On our daily walks we are definitely reminded that Fall is here and Winter just around the corner. The smell of pinon wood smoke in the crisp Fall air beckons one to spend time indoors in front of a warming fire.

A few days ago we had a last opportunity to take in the the last glimpses of a Fall scenery along the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, NM. Here are just a few pictures to share with you. They were taken at the Rio Grande Nature Center.

Nature Sanctuary Along the Rio Grande River, Albuquerque, NM

Cottonwood Trees Along the Rio Grande River

Thanksgiving!

The year has turned its circle,

The seasons come and go.

The harvest all is gathered in

And chilly North winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,

The Fields, their yellow grain,

So open wide the doorway —

Thanksgiving comes gain.

~Old Rhyme~

Rio Grande Nature Center

Fall weather invites all of us to not only spend more time indoors but to look  inside of ourselves and reflect on just where we find ourselves. Where have our decisions taken us, where are we going? Are we content, or are we looking to make changes? What is most important to us and what are we truly thankful for?  There are no doubt as many scenarios as there are people. These are interesting and exciting times, filled with possibilities and opportunities, if we choose to take them.  For many people this is a time filled with great challenges. Yet, each challenge also offers the opportunity of change and the discovery of a truer self. As the trees shed their leaves each Fall, it also invites each and every one of us to let go of what no longer serves us. In turn, we can see ourselves anew with a fresh perspective, birthing a renewal in spirit and the ability of  giving and receiving of more love. LOVE is what we are truly thankful for this season. What are you thankful for?

Thanksgiving being just around the corner, this naturally offers greater togetherness with family and friends, since it is also the beginning of the holiday season.  In the spirit of sharing, we are offering a recipe each day leading up to Thanksgiving. There will be a variety of main dishes, side dishes, appetizers, desserts and refreshments. We are focusing on simple and easy to duplicate dishes, the first of which is our Fall Pumpkin Stew with Caramelized Onions.

It is a fairly simple dish to make but requires a little prep. time. It will provide for 6 large servings. You will need the following ingredients:

2 Pie pumpkins

3 medium-sized sweet potatoes

5 medium-sized red potatoes

32 oz. (1 quart) vegetable broth

1 red onion

1 yellow onion

3 cloves of garlic

several sprigs of fresh thyme

2 tsp. curry powder

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. no-salt herb seasoning

1 tsp. Himalaya salt

1 tsp. sucanat

coconut oil for caramelizing the onions

The longest prep. time involves baking the pumpkins. Cut the pumpkins in half. You will need a very sharp knife, so mind the fingers in the process. Scoop out the seeds and set aside. Place the pumpkins, cut side facing down, on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350°F/180°C oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. While they are baking, wash the sweet and red potatoes, peel and cut them into roughly l-inch cubes. Place them into a large stock pot, or saucepan with at least 1-inch water,  and steam until tender (about 25 minutes). Set the potatoes aside. Remove the baked pumpkins, scoop out the flesh and add it to the steamed potatoes together with the vegetable stock, salt, curry, no-salt herb seasoning and chili powder. Cook over medium heat.

Baked Pie Pumpkins

Meanwhile, wash the pumpkin seeds and remove and remaining stringy flesh. Let them dry, place on a cookie sheet or glass baking dish, coat the seeds with a little extra curry and chili powder, as well as a little salt, and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. If you prefer, you can also season the seeds with a gluten free tamari sauce, or, if you prefer them sweet, with 1 tsp. cinnamon and a dusting of sucanat. They turn out great either way.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Peel and cut half of the red onion and one whole yellow onion into thin slices (rings). Add a couple of teaspoons of coconut oil into a frying pan. Heat and add the onions. Cook over medium heat. Wait until the onions are translucent and then  coat them with 1 tsp. of sucanat. Continue to brown (caramelize) them over medium heat only. Transfer to a oven proof dish and place them in a warm oven to keep warm until the stew is done.

Onions and Garlic

Red Onions

Caramelized Onions

Cut the remaining half of the red onion as well as the peeled cloves of garlic into small pieces and cook separately in a saucepan with a little coconut oil until they are well done and translucent. Add these to the stew together with the fresh thyme.

Fresh Thyme

Combine all ingredients well and let simmer for another 20 minutes. If you wish, you can remove the thyme pieces before serving. Taste the stew and add any additional salt, curry or chili powder, to taste.  Serve in soup bowls topped with the caramelized onions.

Fall Pumpkin Stew

This stew is a tasty, warming and flavorful addition to our Fall lineup of recipes.

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