fall

Season's Eatings: Need a Meatless Monday (or any day) Idea?

It's only been the last few years that I've developed a taste for winter squash. Strange, because I've always liked sweet potatoes and it doesn't seem that butternut or acorn squash are that far removed from those. But for whatever reason, for most of my life I've just been sort of "meh" about winter squash dishes. I'm glad my tastes have changed!

This recipe is perfect for the fall/winter season. It calls for the sweet, mild acorn squash variety that is plentiful, and it turns golden brown when roasted. You can even eat the skin (washed, of course).

Acorn squash is easily digested and is high in Vitamins A, C, E, and B-complex. It's also high in beta carotene, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and potassium. If that's not enough, acorn squash is also known to help reduce inflammation; and finally, its "comfort food" qualities go a long way in satisfying cravings without sacrificing nutrition.

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey (maple syrup could be substituted if desired)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fill a rimmed baking sheet with 1/2 inch of water and place the squash in the tray, cut side down. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender when pressed.

In a skillet (I love my cast iron for this part) saute the onion and garlic in coconut oil over medium heat until translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add the cranberries, sea salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium heat until cranberries are soft and plump.

Add the walnuts and honey, stirring frequently until walnuts turn golden brown. Remove from heat.

When squash halves are cooked through, remove from oven and drain any remaining water from pan. Flip the squash halves right side up and fill the centers with the cranberry filling.

Sprinkle the edges of the squash lightly with coconut sugar and return pan to the oven for 3-5 minutes more until the sugar has browned.

Enjoy! 

Three Things I'm Loving Now (Fall 2017)

The way that we're drawn to new things as the seasons change throughout the year is always fascinating to me. Although I'm growing less fond of winter as the years go by, the change of seasons and seasonal flavors, scents, and textures is something I appreciate about living where we do. I know that by late spring I'll be yearning for the stuff of summer again, but for now? Those tomatoes that we loved in late summer--I'm tired of them. The light, airy scents of tangerine and bergamot that I was diffusing a month or so ago? Meh. The pineapple mango smoothies of summer? Not so much.

The scents and flavors that I'm loving right now as we head into fall start off with Clary Sage Essential Oil. Clary Sage is regarded as an effective essential oil for women especially, in balancing hormones and reducing anxiety. 

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research found that inhalation of clary sage oil had the ability to reduce cortisol levels by 36 percent and improved thyroid hormone levels. The study was done on 22 post-menopausal women in their 50s, some of whom were diagnosed with depression. At the end of the trial, the researchers stated that “clary sage oil had a statistically significant effect on lowering cortisol and had an anti-depressant effect improving mood.”

As the days get shorter, this herbaceous, slightly spicy oil is super-appealing to me, with something of a warming quality. I love it so much that I've been wearing it on this aromatherapy pendant. I have used Young Living essential oils exclusively for years and highly recommend them for purity and quality. 

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Comfort food. It means something different to everyone. For some it's mac and cheese; for others it's mashed potatoes or a grilled cheese sandwich. This dish that we love draws from middle-Eastern flavors, but it has all the makings of comfort food, in its warm, soft texture. This recipe is adapted from one that appeared in the magazine Veg News several years ago. 

Satisfying Sleek

Ingredients: 

1 cup bulgur wheat

3 cups low-salt or salt-free vegetable broth or stock

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cups kale, chopped

4 teaspoons baharat spice blend (recipe follows)

2 15-oz. cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Baharat Spice Blend:**

1 Tablespoon black pepper

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground fenugreek

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

**Note: This spice blend makes enough for two batches of Sleek. You will only use half of the mixture for the recipe.

Method:

Place bulgur into a large bowl. Cover with the vegetable broth and set aside for 30 minutes.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until soft. Add the spice blend and the bulgur mixture, and the black-eyed peas. Bring what liquid there is to a boil, stirring so that it doesn't stick. If the bulgur has soaked up most of the broth, add water in 1/2 cup increments. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the kale and continue simmering for another 5-10 minutes or until kale is wilted. Take off heat; stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

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A Fall Beverage Discovery! Apple cider in the fall will probably always be one of my favorites, but it's not something I will have every day. Something I DO have every day is my Greens Blend from Life's Abundance. In the fall, though, a big cold drink isn't too appealing, unless it's after a sweaty spin class. Well, guess what? I tried my Greens Blend hot, and I love it! I mixed a scoop of Greens Blend with 12 ounces of water in a shaker bottle, and once blended, poured it into my favorite mug. A minute and 30 seconds in the microwave, and I have a warm, delicious drink with a subtle berry flavor. I'm excited about keeping my phytonutrient game strong through the fall and winter by enjoying this as a hot beverage! 

These are three of my favorite things for Fall 2017--what are some of yours?

 

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