Apple and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash


The other day this acorn squash was just sitting on my kitchen counter, staring at me, as if to say, “So, what the heck are ya gonna to do with me, huh?”  I took the challenge right then and there, and here is the result.  These autumn beauties would be the perfect sweet and savory side dish for your Thanksgiving table, and so easy to prepare!  The apple, spice and walnut filling compliments the squash so well, and is very versatile.  You could just use the filling in puff pastry for a dessert, as a non-dairy “ice cream” topping, or mixed into oatmeal.  The possibilities are endless.  And once you taste it.  It won’t be hard to find excuses to make it again.  NOTE: The recipe calls for date paste, which is a wonderful, unprocessed, whole food sweetener.  Directions on how to prepare it are at the end of the recipe.  Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash, cut in half, lengthwise, seeds removed

1 large apple, cored and diced

1 handful raw walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup date paste*

1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance, softened (non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine) – optional

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground clove

a scant 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Pour enough water in a 9×13 inch glass baking dish to fill about 1/2 inch deep.  Set squash halves in the dish, cut side up.
  2. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Heap about half of the mixture into each squash half and pile in enough to make a nice mound on top.
  3. Carefully place baking dish in the oven and bake for 60-90 minutes.  Test for doneness by piercing the squash with a fork.  If the fork goes in easily, and the filling is bubbly, it’s ready.  Enjoy!

* Date paste is a terrific whole-food substitute for processed, refined sugar.  Just fill a blender pitcher with 2-3 cups of pitted dates (double check for any remaining pits).  Pour in water until the water line overs about half of the dates.  Blend on high until pureed.  Transfer to an airtight container and use whenever you need to grab a sweetener for anything from hot tea or coffee, to baking or smoothies. Use by itself for a great apple dip. Your batch of date paste will last (refrigerated, in an air-tight container) about 1 week.

Scrumptious Pumpkin Walnut Waffles!

The days are getting shorter and that tell-tale chill in the air has arrived…autumn is fast approaching.  One of the many things I love about fall is pumpkin!  Pumpkin jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, and of course, pumpkin waffles!

These waffles are perfect for a cool, lazy morning.  They are whole grain, vegan, soy-free and oil-free.  Full of pumpkin, apples and walnuts,  kids get their veggies, fruit, and omega 3s and ask for more.  Make sure to drizzle with some pure maple syrup or even top with bananas.  Delish!

Yields 6 Belgium Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups rice milk
  • 3 Tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup sucanat, brown sugar, or other sweetener of choice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-2 handfuls raw walnuts, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer instructions
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour through cloves) in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk until emulsified.
  4. Combine the wet stuff with the dry stuff and prepare according to waffle iron manufacturer instructions.  Enjoy!

Tip: I have a very used and abused (or should I say “seasoned”) waffle iron.  To keep the waffles from sticking when I take them out,  I spray a little cooking spray on the inside before pouring in the batter.  This makes it much easier to get the waffles from iron to plate without destroying them. 

Oatmeal Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies

Holy cow are these cookies good!  If you love lots of chocolatey-oaty, sweet and crunchy goodness then this is the cookie for you.  It is also a great back-to-school treat you can share with the kids, without any guilt since the only things these little gems lack are eggs, butter, oil and soy.  To make them wheat-free, try substituting the whole wheat pastry flour with oat or barley flour.  These also freeze very well, so why not make a double batch and freeze some to enjoy later!  

A Helpful Note: The dough is a lot easier to manage if you can let it chill in the fridge for about an hour or so before baking, but this isn’t necessary.  Here I use applesauce and prune puree (baby food prunes).  If you only have one of the two on hand, it’s no problem.  Just as long as you end up with 1 cup of fruit puree, whether in the form of applesauce, prunes or a combo.  Mashed bananas may also work in a pinch, though I haven’t tested that substitution yet.  

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1/2 cup prune puree or baby food prunes 
  • 3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup sucanat or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated can juice or raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  2 1/2 -3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips, or roughly chopped vegan dark chocolate
  • 1 cup raw pecans, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit.  Place oven racks at 2nd and 5th positions.
  2. Combine water, flaxmeal, applesauce, prune puree and sugars in a large bowl and beat well.  Beat in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Gradually add dry mixture to wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
  4. With a wooden spoon, stir in oats, cherries, chocolate and nuts.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight, if desired.
  6. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  Press to flatten slightly.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes.  Rotate baking sheets half way into baking time.  Rotate 180 degrees and switch racks that the baking sheets are on, to insure even baking.
  8. Cool on baking sheet for 5-10 min., then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling…if you can wait that long.  🙂

Coconut Date Nut Balls

These little treasures come from one of my favorite books on plant-based nutrition. Disease Proof Your Child by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. really helped me understand how to live a plant-based whole food diet and be sure that the kids are getting everything they need.  Coconut Date Nut Balls (or rolls, depending upon how you shape them) are so easy and delicious, not to mention nutritious (as far as sweets go).  There is no added sugar here.  All of the sweetness comes from the natural sugars found in the dates.  Try tucking them into little paper candy wrappers for a real special treat.

Ingredients

1 cup dates, finely chopped – If you have the time, try soaking the dates in water for  few hours or overnight to make them softer.  Be sure to drain well before using. 

scant 1/4 cup each of the following, finely chopped 

  • raw cashews
  • raw walnuts
  • raw almonds
  • raw sunflower seeds

¼ cup unsweetened coconut

Directions

Place ingredients in a large bowl and use clean hands to knead the ingredients together.  Roll into walnut-sized balls and arrange on a plate.  Store in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container, until ready to eat.


Teff Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

Teff is one of the smallest grains in the world, and also one of the most nutritious.  It is gluten-free and a good source of fiber, protein, calcium and iron.  In Ethiopia, teff flour is used to make injera bread, which is a staple there.

The fact that teff grains are so small makes it very difficult to mill into teff flour.  You can find it though.  Bob’s Red Mill (www.bobsredmill.com) makes a whole grain teff flour that can be found in health food stores.  Teff flour is also gluten-free and makes a great alternative to regular flour.

I picked some up and decided to give it a try.  Here’s what I came up with.  This recipe is actually adapted from one taken right off the back of the teff flour package.  I eliminated the oil and substituted applesauce.  Mashed ripe banana would probably be a tasty oil substitute here, too.   If peanuts (or nuts in general) are out of the question because of an allergy or sensitivity, try using sunflower seed butter instead.  

Ingredients :

  • 1 1/2 cup whole grain teff flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients well. (You can use a hand mixer, food processor or even a blender for this part.)
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until well combined.
  5. Roll dough into balls the size of a tablespoon and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Slightly flatten with a fork, using the tines to make a criss-cross pattern.
  7. Bake for 13-15 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

(yields 2 dozen cookies)

Creamy, delicious brown rice pudding!

I was so excited when we came up with this recipe today, I couldn’t wait to share it with you!  We eat oatmeal around here for breakfast almost daily.  This rice pudding makes a great warm breakfast cereal for a little change of pace.  You can also serve it cool, or even as a dessert.  It is so versatile.  If it looks a little thick once it has cooled, just stir in a little non-dairy milk, and it should be fine.  Also feel free to experiment a little yourself.  I really like the apples, currants and walnuts that we used today, but raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, bananas, pecans, almonds would all work really well too.  Get creative!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, etc.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

cinnamon, to taste

1 apple, peeled and chopped (small dice)

1 handful raw walnuts, chopped

1 handful dried currants

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan at medium heat and stir.  Bring to a simmer and lower heat.  Simmer for about 15-20 min., stirring occasionally.  Serve warm or cool.