Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets, food for runners (or this runner)

Moroccan Tagine with Sweet Potatoes + Beets, food for runners (or this runner)

IMG_0359

 

There is nothing like a few days spent living with others to put into perspective how truly personal is our choice in food. While I will happily eat roasted broccoli or leftover kale salad for 9am snack (and frequently do), even the idea of kale salad at a seemingly more appropriate time of day might leave others running for the door.

 

 

This point is driven home in my frequent conversations about food with others. My work at the university has often left me chatting about the differences between foods here in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world–how everything is just sooo sweet–and how diets inherently change even without the individual really attempting to when taking up residence here.

 

IMG_0370
IMG_0368
IMG_0362

In sharing this recipe, I’ll make a point in saying first that I question the title and definitely the authenticity as I’ve never been to Morocco and have only eaten at one semi-Moroccan restaurant. And yet I love the flavors of “Moroccan” foods, particularly the tagines with sweet, savory, and spicy notes. So I’ll take liberty and call this my own version of a Moroccan tagine.

Second, I can see some camps loving this and others, again, running for the door because whoa, there are tooo many vegetables and don’t get me started on Rebecca’s fondness for spices.

 

IMG_0307


But basically I call this the type of food that I like to eat to fuel my running life. Or more adequately, it is the food I tend to crave before a big run or race. So when William and others were packing sandwiches for our relay race a few weeks back, I found myself making and then eating Moroccan sweet potato + beet tagine with quinoa to fuel my runs and turning to it again a few more times throughout the ensuing weeks.

It is also a recipe I know I will adapt and make further into the fall season and the months (and miles) to come.

 

IMG_0311

 

Moroccan Sweet Potato + Beet Tagine, serves 6-8
Inspired by Vegetarian Everyday

Though I tend to use a heavy hand with the harissa, I haven’t yet purchased or made one that has been nearly as spicy as the kind I’ve had in a restaurant–and its flavor tends to get muted by all the sweet notes of the apricots and currants. Use more or less, or even leave out, as you see fit.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 inches fresh raw ginger, finely grated
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1  1/2 teaspoons cumin
sea salt, to taste
2 tablespoons harissa
4-5 large tomatoes, diced
zest and juice of one lemon
3-4 beets, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 medium eggplant, sliced into large pieces
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 2-inch pieces
2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into 2-inch pieces
10 dried apricots, each sliced into about six pieces
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/4 cup currants
thinly sliced fresh mint, to serve
cooked millet, quinoa, brown rice or other, to serve

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion for a few minutes until it becomes soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and the spices and allow to cook for about 30 seconds more.
  2. Stir in the harissa, diced tomatoes, lemon zest and juice. Bring the sauce to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer.
  3. Add the beets, eggplant, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and apricots. Stir well so everything is nice and mixed, then cover and simmer for about an hour. Keep it covered as much as possible, but stir a couple times throughout the hour.
  4. Once the vegetables are tender all the way through, add in the cooked beans and currants, cook for about 5 minutes more to heat through, and then season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Serve over cooked millet or other grain with a garnish of sliced mint on top.

Honey-Amaranth Waffles with Spiced Pears

IMG_9255

 

I woke up at 4:30 again this morning with a head full of words needing to come out. I proceeded to write solidly for over two hours before walking away, thinking all I had written needed to be shared.

Given the heaviness of what I’ve already shared in this space these last few days, weeks, and months, and the miraculous way that my lightness of being directly correlates with letting heavy thoughts go, those words may make their way into this space yet.

 

For now, I’d like to just settle my mind down and get cozy with high-vibe breakfast things, like waffles. And then, try to take a nap.

 

The Recipe Redux this month is all about breaking out of breakfast boredom and these waffles are one of the ways I’ve been doing that lately. Like a lot of people, I go through phases with breakfast meals, and the current one, hot porridge, has been going steady for four+ years.

But for the last month I’ve been revisiting my favorite waffles most Monday mornings. I generally have nothing planned for Mondays except to fill my brain with scientific literature and APA formatting for eight solid hours, as I’ve got the day off from work and it’s full of school instead. I’ve found that eating these is a great way to start the week.

The recipe for these waffles was a work in progress for about a year and a half after gluten and dairy were removed from my diet, and though I made a lot of different flavor combinations throughout my year teaching (comfort food after a stressful day, I suppose), these are the ones that became my go-to once that phase ended. I like them because the amaranth flour lends an earthy flavor, they’re almost entirely whole-grain, and they have just enough sweetness to need no extra sugar poured on top. All of this is my sort of thing because half the time waffles are more of a dinner item and I don’t like the idea of sugar and starch for my evening meal. I also can’t handle sugar for breakfast, so there’s that as well.

 

IMG_9245

 

If you haven’t tried amaranth before, it is technically a tiny-seed pseudograin, like quinoa. In fact, the two are related botanically and share many characteristics. Historically, amaranth was very important to the ancient Aztecs. Nutritionally, it is one of the highest-quality grains to add to your diet and is especially useful for individuals who do a lot of physical work, athletes, infants, children, and pregnant and nursing women. I like it because it is a good source of calcium and an excellent source of iron, and has more protein than most other grains. Even though its nutritional effects are minimal in these waffles, adding more amaranth to meals cannot hurt. Flavor-wise, I find that amaranth goes particularly well with autumn and winter fruits, like pears, and I prefer that combination over anything savory I’ve tried.

This recipe is inspired by Kim Boyce’s Honey-Amaranth Waffles in Good to the Grain, but is now so far removed that I can’t say they’re anything like her original. If you have no reason to avoid gluten, use whole-wheat pastry flour in place of the gluten-free, and if using your own gluten-free flour mixture, keep in mind that mine is 70 percent whole-grain by weight and has 10 percent buckwheat flour, which is another stronger flavor.

 

How do you break up the breakfast boredom?

 

IMG_9230

 

Honey-Amaranth Waffles with Spiced Pears, makes 3 

3 Tbs. ground flax, separated

3 Tbs. warm water

1 cup nut/seed milk

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. amaranth flour

1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. honey

1 Tbs. coconut oil, melted + additional for the waffle iron

 

To Finish:

1 pear, chopped into a large dice

1/4 cup water

1/8 tsp. ginger

1/16 tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper

pinch of ground cloves

unsweetened coconut yogurt, optional

pomegranate molasses, if you’d like an extra fancy drizzle of sweetness atop

 

Directions:

  1. Turn the waffle iron to a medium-high setting. In a small dish, whisk 1 Tbs. ground flax with the 3 Tbs. water. Set aside to form a thick slurry. In a liquid measuring cup, stir the milk together with the vinegar, and allow to curdle slightly.
  2. In a large bowl, stir the remaining dry ingredients together.
  3. Combine the coconut oil and honey, and then add them to the milk along with the flax slurry. Whisk the liquids briefly to make sure they’re uniform, and then pour them atop the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir the batter lightly. Depending on the day and air moisture, a little extra liquid may need to be added.
  5. Brush the waffle iron with a small amount of coconut oil, and then ladle 3/4 cup of batter onto the iron. Cook until the indicator light tells you it’s done, or a quick peek shows a golden-brown color.
  6. Remove from the iron, and plate up, along with a spoonful or two of yogurt and a pile of spiced pears.
  7. For the pears: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the diced pears, water, and spices. Once they begin to really cook, turn down the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook until they are soft and beginning to be a little syrupy. This can all happen while waiting for those waffles to cook.

 

 

References:

Boyce, B. (2010). Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours. New York, NY: Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

 

 

 

Pumpkin, Sage + Rosemary Baked Risotto

IMG_8967

 

I’m taking a class right now called Redefining Nutrition. One of its texts is Marc David’s Nourishing Wisdom, and I recommend it to just about everyone. Essentially, it backs up a lot of what I already know about food and diets, that there is no one diet for everyone, that we are all especially unique when it comes to food and food preferences, and that our bodies are always changing, and our diets should naturally change with them to reflect the seasons and our changing needs.

 

I recently read too, Gena Hamshaw’s wonderful article, about tuning out the noise around new year’s diets, cleanses, and body-resolutions. It was written specifically for those in recovery from eating disorders and it resonated strongly with me as Gena brought to attention the extemely competitive nature of food and fitness-regimes. Essentially, Gena suggests the often difficult task of tuning out all the hype and just, “you do you.”

 

IMG_8909

 

Taking into consideration both readings, I sit ill with encouraging you to “go eat this recipe” that I share, because that’s not me. And perhaps it is not the recipe you need right now if you are doing you. I only share recipes here that are essentially what I am eating in this season, for me. William, who generally raves about my cooking, doesn’t always agree with me that he needs to eat another grain and bean bowl, and sometimes, he tells me, he just needs pizza instead of greens.

 

IMG_8960

 

Specifically, a little more about me: I am cold all winter. I cart my heating pad wherever I go and blast the car-heater for a whole hour on my drive home. I have to warm up my fingers and toes after only short snippets outside and I tell friends I no longer snowboard because it cost too much and is too long of a drive and I hurt my knee on ice that last time and never got over the fear of doing so again, but actually I don’t snowboard anymore because I spent half the day on the lift freezing and I’m actually more afraid of spending hours being cold. So when the new year rolls around, I don’t do smoothies or cold salads. I rarely drink a cold beverage between the months of October and April. I’m not into cleanse diets or “clean-eating”. Mostly, I want to eat comforting, nourishing, warming things that just happen to be good for me, in the way that good food or good company fills you up and doesn’t seem to have any caloric value or nutritional plan attached to it or necessary for its consumption.  This is me tuning out the noise and eating for me. I encourage you to get quiet enough to find out what you need and if you want to make a diet, exercise, or other wellness resolution this year, go for it. But make it one that is true to you.

 

IMG_8963

 

 

So as is my usual, I’m eating warm and wintery vegetables this January and this creamy, dreamy pumpkin risotto is one I know I’ll be making for years to come during the winter season. I first began making it way back in November and shared it at Thanksgiving with the fam. While I love all risotto, this one uses short grain brown rice, which gives it that creamy risotto texture which usually only comes with arborio or other traditional risotto rice varieties. It features caramelized onions, sage and rosemary, pumpkin puree, a hint of sweetness with a spoonful of maple syrup, and is rounded out with Progresso’s rich and savory vegetable stock. Now available in grocery stores nationwide in the soup aisle, Progresso has officially launched a new line of premium Cooking Stocks, made by simmering real bones, vegetables and herbs to create a flavor that’s close to homemade. I’ve made my own vegetable stock and I can honestly say Progresso’s tastes quite similar to my own version. Since this risotto itself is already more of a weekend endeavor, I like the shortcut of purchasing a nice cooking stock rather than making my own or using water only.

 

IMG_8973

 

Pumpkin, Sage + Rosemary Baked Risotto, serves 4

1/2 Tbs. coconut or olive oil

1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup short grain brown rice

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 Tbs. cashew cream (see note)

1 Tbs. maple syrup

3/4 tsp. salt

3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary, destemmed and leaves finely diced

1/2 Tbs. finely diced fresh sage

pinch of ground black pepper

3 cups Progresso Vegetable Stock

2 Tbs. toasted and chopped hazelnuts

  1. To caramelize the onion: warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, stirring to coat. Decrease the heat to low and let the onion cook until dark golden brown, about 25 minutes. Stir as little as possible, but enough to keep the onion from sticking to the pan or burning.
  2. While the onion is caramelizing, parboil the rice by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Stir in the rice, decrease the heat to medium, and cook until the rice is half tender and slightly enlarged, about 12-15 minutes. Drain it and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and lightly oil a 9×9 inch baking dish or 2-quart dutch oven.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together the pumpkin puree, cashew cream, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and herbs. Fold in the onions once they are caramelized and the rice. Scoop the mixture into the baking dish and spread it out so the top is nicely level.
  5. In a saucepan, over medium-high, bring the vegetable stock to just below boiling. Put the baking dish in the oven, and then slowly and carefully pour the hot vegetable broth over the top.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes. The risotto will still be a little loose and have a layer of liquid still on top. It will continue to soak up liquid as it cools.
  7. Remove from the oven and top with chopped hazelnuts. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Note: To make cashew cream, soak 1/4 cup raw cashews in water for at least an hour. Drain and add to a high-speed blender or food processor. Add 2-4 Tbs. water and puree until completely smooth. You now have your cream for this recipe and a little extra for another time. The extra freezes well.

As part of The Recipe Redux Progresso Comfort Food Flavor Boost Challenge, I received free samples of Progresso Cooking Stock mentioned in this post at no cost. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Progresso Cooking Stock and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.