Carolyn’s Pumpkin Harvest Pilaf

“Finally pumpkin season” ….. words spoken by my sister every Autumn as she anxiously awaits indulging in pumpkin desserts, pumpkin coffee drinks, pumpkin anything. My sister LOVES pumpkin!! So this year I decided to create a recipe in her honor. Something healthy, hearty and out of this world …..

As I was making this recipe, I had the windows open and felt the Fall breeze in my kitchen. I watched the colorful leaves gently falling to the ground. I heard the neighbors outside saying, “oh, someone is cooking something delicious” …… They were standing right by MY window, so I guess that someone was me ūüėČ

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!!

Carolyn's Pumpkin Harvest Pilaf

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • One Sugar-pie pumpkin
  • 1 cup wild rice blend
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth (for vegetarian, use veggie broth)
  • 1/3 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend

Pumpkin Spice Blend:

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Blend all ingredients and set aside

Cook rice and broth per package instructions. Set aside.

Poke a few holes in the top of your pumpkin. Microwave for three minutes to soften the shell. Let cool for one minute then use a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin in half side-to-side. Scoop out the pulp and seeds from the center.

Take the top half, using a potato peeler, peel off the outer shell of the pumpkin. Chop into small square pieces.

Clean out as much of the pumpkin squash from the bottom half, being careful not to break the shell (this way you can use it as a bowl).. Put the pulp aside for later use in a smoothie or bowl of soup.

Turn oven on .. 425 degrees.

Coat the squared pumpkin pieces with one tablespoon melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove pumpkin from oven and stir. Add the walnuts next to the pumpkin and place back into the oven for 4 more minutes.

Add to a large bowl: cooked rice, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons pumpkin spice, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds. Toss gently.

Add toasted pumpkin and walnuts to the rice mixture and toss one more time. Serve


Step By Step:

Poke a few holes in the top of your pumpkin. Microwave for three minutes to soften the shell.

Let cool for one minute then use a sharp knife to cut the pumpkin in half (make the bottom half a little bigger so it can be used as a bowl later). Scoop out the pulp and seeds from the center.

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Take the top half, using a potato peeler, peel off the outer shell of the pumpkin. This is fairly easy since the microwave softened the skin.

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Chop into small square pieces.

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Clean out as much of the pumpkin from the bottom half, being careful not to break the shell (this way you can use it as a bowl).. Put the pulp aside for later use in a smoothie or bowl of soup.

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Turn oven onto 425 degrees.

Coat the squared pumpkin with one tablespoon melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Put onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.

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Remove pumpkin from oven and stir. Add the walnuts next to the pumpkin and place back into the oven for 4 more minutes.

Add to a large bowl: cooked rice, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons pumpkin seasoning, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds. Toss gently.

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Add toasted pumpkin and walnuts to the rice mixture. Serve

*somehow, I was so enthralled in creating this recipe, mouth watering and tummy growling ……… I missed a few photos. SO, we jump from raw pumpkin squares to the final product!!

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Ta-daaaaaaaaaaaaah

Here’s to all you pumpkin-lovers out there. May you fill your kitchen with the delicious aroma of Pumpkin pie spices and cranberries. May your neighbors wish they were having dinner with you ….

Enjoy! Thanks for stopping by everyone.

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Energizing Apple Peel Powder

applepicThis past weekend I made the most delicious Dutch Apple Pie. As always though, I felt terrible for the waste – all those apple peels and cores. I decided to come up with a way¬†to use them rather than throw them in the trash (especially since most the nutrition is in the peel). With¬†a little research, I found the PERFECT way to save the peels and create a vitamin packed homemade Energizing¬†Apple Peel Powder (There’s a site that sells this stuff and let me just say, “It isn’t cheap!!”)

Look at ALL those peels!

I found that apple peels contain natural sources of Vitamins A and C, and minerals РCalcium, Phosphorus, Folate, and Iron. They also contain a high level of antioxidants to help protect our cells from free radical damage. *

According to the National Institute of Health, consumption of apple peel powder increases joint function and range of motion in those who were found to have chronic pain.*

In addition, a study done at the University of Iowa showed that a natural substance in apple peels (ursolic acid) was found to reduce obesity in mice. They said further studies were needed to see if apple peels would reduce obesity in humans, but I would be willing to give them a chance to lose a few pounds Рhow about you?

Ok, if I were at home in Vegas I would just use the summer sun to dry my peels, but I’m way up in Canada right now without my dehydrator. I still decided to make it work by setting my oven on its lowest setting (170F) and heating the peels until they were dry (it took about 3 hours).

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Not the best photo – Sorry! But I wanted to show you how much they will shrink.

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And even though they shrink significantly, 8 apples still yielded over 3 cups dried apple peels.

There was probably closer to 4 cups of dried peels, but they were so sweet and crispy that I ate some of them right off the tray!

I added the dried peels to my Vitamix blender and crushed them until they turned into a powder (about 2 minutes). It yielded 3/4 cup powder. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but notice the recipes below. Each one calls for a tablespoon or less. This energizing apple peel powder¬†goes a long way!

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Check out ALL the ways you can use this amazing creation!

Apple Pie Smoothie: One banana, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup ice, 1 tablespoon raw honey, 1 tablespoon apple peel powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Blend in high powered blender for 1 minute.

Apple Walnut Oatmeal: One serving of your favorite oatmeal (mine is steal cut oats cooked with nut milk), 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon raw honey, 1 teaspoon apple peel powder.

Apple Granola Yogurt: One serving of your favorite yogurt (mine is vanilla Greek), 2 tablespoons of your favorite granola (I like a hemp and nut granola), 1 teaspoon dried raisins, 1 teaspoon apple peel powder. Mix all the ingredients and let sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before eating.

Apple & Sweet Pepper Marinade: One cup of your favorite smoky barbeque sauce, 1/2 cup (each) chopped red pepper and red onion sautéed in olive oil until soft, 1 tablespoon apple peel powder, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, dash cayenne pepper. Blend all the ingredients and marinate/baste your favorite piece of meat.

Apple Vanilla Frozen Yogurt Pops: Blend a 500gram container of vanilla yogurt with a dash of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of apple peel powder. Add to your frozen pop mold and freeze.

Apple Granola: 2 cups (oats, uncooked quinoa, popped amaranth or other grain of your choice), 1 cup of your favorite nuts, 3/4 cup raisins, 1 tablespoon apple peel powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground clove, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup melted coconut oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup brown sugar. Blend dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another. Blend both bowls together. Add mixture to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 325F for 10 minutes.

Basically, apple peel powder can be added to any smoothie, hot or cold cereal, granola recipe, ice cream recipe, marinade or even dry meat rub!! I’ve also added it to a Harvest Cheddar Soup and Butternut Squash Soup.

Apple Peel Powder is packed full of nutrients, saves on food waste, taste incredibly sweet with a hint of tart, and a little goes a long way.

Please comment below and share how you’ve been creative in the kitchen and saved food from being tossed.

Thanks for stopping by, Rene’

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25271471

http://www.appleactiv.com/appleactiv-dapp

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120620212855.htm

Vegan Potato Leek Soup

Recently, I shared with my readers that I adopted a vegetarian lifestyle. It’s been about three weeks and I’ve had so much fun in the kitchen. I’ve had Tofu Piccata (while my hubby had Chicken Piccata), Cauli-fredo sauce with GF noodles, Sprouted Veggie Bean Burgers and so much more.

A few days ago, my husband made some saut√©ed scallops with leeks. He had a cup of leeks left over (which he was going to toss in the trash). Well, you know me ….. I can’t stand to throw food away so I grabbed it before it was tossed. I put¬†on my creative cap¬†and scanned the refrigerator for some ideas.¬† There was one lonesome potato, a large piece of onion and I found some veggie broth in my freezer.

I’ve also been experimenting with how to make creamy sauces without cream, milks or cheese. Did you know that¬†a handful of¬†soaked nuts mixed with a little avocado makes a SUPER creamy sauce?

I have to tell you, the first time I blended all these ingredients, I was so disappointed with myself for not taking photos to share. Who knew it would have turned out this DELICIOUS!

It was so good, I had to make it again so I could share with all of you!!

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Vegan Potato Leek Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Nutritional info: Calories: 204, Fat: 16.2g (saturated 2.2g), Carbohydrates: 11.2g, Dietary Fiber 3.3g, Sugars: 2.2g, Protein: 6g

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium yellow potato (one cup chopped)
  • 1/2¬†cup soaked/skinned almonds (or cashews)
  • 1 cup sliced leeks
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried¬†thyme
  • Fresh Thyme for a garnish (I used Lemon-Thyme)

Directions

  1. In Vitamix (or high powered blender) blend vegetable broth, soaked nuts and avocado until smooth (high setting for about 2 minutes). Set aside.
  2. Peel and chop potato into small cubes. Add to a pot of boiling water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.
  3. Soak the leeks in water for about 5 minutes. Rinse and drain well.
  4. In a sauté pan, add olive oil, leeks, onion and garlic. Sautee for 8 minutes on a medium heat.
  5. Add potatoes, sea salt, thyme and onion powder to the leek mixture. Sauté for 3 minutes.
  6. Add half the potato mixture to the broth mixture. Blend on high until smooth (about 1 minute).
  7. Add the rest of the potato mixture to the Vitamix and blend on 3 (low if you’re using a different blender) for 15 seconds.
  8. Sprinkle with fresh lemon-thyme for a garnish.

Serve hot or cold!!

Step-By-Step

The first time I made this recipe, I used soaked cashews.¬†When I decided to make it again, I didn’t have any cashews so I improvised with almonds. Both the cashews and the almonds made a terrific soup. The cashews were a little less work, but if all you have is almonds, here’s what to do:

  • Put¬†a half a cup of almonds in a cup of warm water for two hours.
  • Rinse and drain.
  • Pull skins off the almonds. This is super easy. Just put the almond between your thumb and index finger and give a little squeeze. The almond will pop right out of the skin.
  • If you’re using cashews, all you need to do is soak them for 2 hours, then rinse and drain.

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Add soaked nuts, avocado and vegetable broth to Vitamix, blend on high for 2 minutes (until smooth).

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Just LOOK how creamy that is!!!

Peel and chop potato into small cubes. Add to a pot of  boiling water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain.

Be sure and soak/rinse the sliced leeks. If you don’t, they will be gritty.

In a sauté pan, add olive oil, leeks, onions and garlic. Sautee for 8 minutes on a medium heat.

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Add boiled potatoes and spices to the sauté pan. Sautee for 3 minutes.

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Add half the potato mixture to the broth in the Vitamix. Blend for one minute, until smooth.

Add the other half of the potato mixture to the Vitamix. Blend on low (I used 3) for 15 seconds (just enough to break everything into smaller pieces but leave enough for texture.

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I scraped the left over leeks out of the skillet and added them as a garnish to my bowl (along with the lemon-thyme).

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Serve Hot or Cold!!

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Happy Eating!! Thanks for stopping by, Rene’

Sprouted Veggie Bean Burger

So it’s the first week of April and the weather man says the high today is only 43F. I keep thinking that “if I were in Las Vegas or California my garden would already be sprouting out of the ground”. I realize this way of thinking is only tormenting myself, so today I have decided to make the veggie bean burgers from the sprouts I grew last week.

If you’ve never had a veggie bean burger, you’re really missing out.¬† Whether you’re a vegetarian¬†or you just want to eat a burger that is super healthy, this is it!!

These burgers hold together perfectly and also freeze well.

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Sprouted Veggie Bean Burger

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup sprouted beans of your choice (this comes from sprouting 1 cup of dry beans)
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • 3/4 cup baby carrots
  • 1/4 large white onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour (I used Gluten free)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 ¬†teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. After day two of sprouting, rinse the beans well. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes, Drain most the liquid (the beans should be a tiny bit moist) Let cool to room temperature.
  2. While the beans are cooling, chop spinach, carrots & onion into small pieces. I like to use my Vitamix (adding carrots first, then onion, then spinach. Pulse on level 3 until all the veggies are chopped). Pour  veggies into a bowl and add the minced garlic.
  3. Add beans to blender and pulse, scraping down the edges. Do not over pulse the beans. The beans should be blended just enough so there are little chunks for texture.
  4. Mix the blended beans with the vegetable mix.
  5. Add the egg, flour, smoked paprika, thyme and sea salt. Blend well.
  6. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray a light coating of olive oil.
  7. Measure 1/2 cup per burger, shape into a burger, and place on cookie sheet. I found the easiest way to do this is scoop with the measuring cup, plop it onto the tray and then form it. Otherwise, you will get SUPER messy! (I like to take my rings off for this part).
  8. Spray the top of each burger with a light coating of olive oil. This will create a crispy outer layer for the burger.
  9. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Depending on your oven, it may take a little longer. To make sure the burger is cooked all the way through, touch the center. It should feel firm with a slightly dried outer crust.
  10. Garnish with all your burger favorites.

Enjoy!!

The first step to making these delicious burgers is to sprout the beans. For step-by-step instructions and all the health benefits of sprouted beans check out this POST.

Once the beans have been sprouted, they are still crunchy so need to be boiled and then simmered until they are soft.

While the beans are cooling off, chop your onion, carrots, spinach and garlic.

Using a high power blender, pulse the beans until they are mushy and sticking together, but not so much they look like refried beans. There should still be some texture in the mix.

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Blend all the ingredients together. If mixture seems dry, add a little water so it’s moist.

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Spray with olive oil and bake at 375F for 30 minutes.

Garnish with your favorite burger toppings.

I topped my burgers with the alfalfa sprouts that I grew at the same time I sprouted the beans.

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Substitutions

  • Use a can of lentils or garbanzo beans instead of the sprouted beans. Just make sure to drain all the liquid off so the burgers aren’t too runny.
  • Yellow onion,¬†red onion or shallots in place of the white onion.
  • Zucchini works well in this burger – can replace the carrots or the spinach.
  • If you are vegan, substitute chia seeds soaked in water for the egg.
  • Garlic powder in place of the garlic cloves.
  • Regular paprika in place of the smoked. In fact, I’ve made these with Cajun spice, chili spices and even rosemary from my garden.

I hope you enjoyed this creation of mine!! Feel free to “like” this post or share it with your friends.

Thanks for stopping by.