Delicata Squash, Rosemary + Cranberry Flatbread

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Like many people, I struggle in winter and it usually hits full force in early to mid-February. This year, it hit along with our first snow/ice storm before winter had technically even begun. This time around, I think the combination of having to set aside plans repeatedly due to weather, feeling trapped at home, and the end of a successful training cycle and race (my first marathon), all culminated in a bit of feeling glum and fearful about the what’s next–as I inevitably tend to be fearful that there’s no way I can possibly live up to my own expectations in each new year.

To be sure, I’m slowly working my way out, and coming up with colorful, yet seasonal meals is one outlet for doing so. Along with this super tasty flatbread, I’ve got a few links to share that have been helpful in this “season.” Enjoy!

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In this New Year:
Trust the light, face the darkness, and live with the questions.
The One Thing.  Absolutely love this video.
17 Recovery Goals for 2017
I don’t have a resolution for the new year, per se, as I’m continuing what I’ve been working on for the last couple years. One of the little things that feeds into that process is Filtering Out the Noise.

Nutrition:
Sugar is the ‘alcohol of the child’, yet we let it dominate the breakfast table
Big Sugar’s Secret Ally? Nutritionists

Social Skills:
Tired and not wonder woman. Applauding and nodding along to Emma’s frustration about the blogging world these days. I’ve had similar experiences. And while expecting and/or demanding instant replies is endemic in our current culture, I’m glad Emma was willing to speak out against it.
On having conversations with those from a different perspective. And progress.

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A good book:

The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones by Annemarie ColbinLike her previous book, Food and Healing, this one calls into question our skewed reliance on dairy for bone health. As an individual who was allergic to cow’s dairy as a baby, “grew out of it,” and then had many symptoms come back in my early twenties, I’ve long been taking calcium supplements and have been fearful that I’m not getting enough, even as I’ve researched and constantly questioned whether I need to take a supplement. After reading this book, which is supported by all the research I have read, I finally feel comfortable and confident that my calcium supplement is not necessary and may be doing more harm than good. This is an individual journey for sure, but if you’re interested in nutrition and bone health in particular, it is a great read.

To Eat:
Grapefruit-Roasted Beets with White Beans– I made this with a cashew cream thinned with additional grapefruit juice instead of the pistachio butter. Yum!
Moroccan Butternut Squash, Wild Rice + Garbanzos
Moroccan Quinoa Salad– This was the meal that fueled the before and after of my December marathon. Add a little kale and garbanzos (my go-to’s) and it becomes a full meal. The best.

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Delicata Squash, Rosemary + Cranberry Flatbread, serves 2-3
There are three components here, but they’re each easy and can be made ahead. Combined, they make a nutritious post-holiday meal that tastes like winter should, in my opinion. Sub out any other type of winter squash but if you do, you might want to remove the peel. If you can no longer find fresh or frozen cranberries, dried can be used, but you’ll want to use less and add more liquid. 

Cranberry Chutney:
1 tsp. good quality canola oil
1/2 large or 1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sherry, vegetable broth, or water
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

1 large delicata squash, halved, deseeded, and chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced

Flatbread:
2/3 cup garbanzo flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour, plus more for dusting
1 Tbs. good quality canola or other high-heat oil
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup poultry seasoning or combination of dried sage, oregano + thyme
1/4-1/3 cup water

  • Make the chutney by heating the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add in the onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 more seconds. Then add in the remaining ingredients, bring to a strong simmer and then turn down to low and cook until it becomes thick and chutney-like, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • While the chutney is simmering, roast the squash on a parchment lined baking sheet with a little water added at 400 degrees F. It should take 20-25 minutes to become soft. Remove and set aside.
  • Then make the flatbread dough: Mix the flours, oil, baking powder, poultry seasoning, salt, and water. Add enough water to make a dough that can be handled and rolled. Then allow the mixture to rest for about 10 minutes.
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Transfer to a baking pan or pizza stone and top with the cranberry chutney. Depending on your preference, you will likely only use half of the chutney.
  • Then top the dough with the roasted squash and minced rosemary, and bake at 400 degrees F for 16 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, slice, and serve.

Tahini, Date + Turmeric Bars

Tahini, Date + Turmeric Bars

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Over the summer, I learned about 30 herbs and/or spices that are commonly used in western herbal medicine in my second herbal medicine class, and I really relished the opportunity to both broaden and deepen my understanding of natural plant medicines. In addition to learning that skullcap, the plant I had chosen to focus on learning about for an entire term in my first class, is the most popular herb sold through my university’s herbal dispensary, I spent the summer delving into a lot of research about specific herbs for treating inflammation and allergies due to my project for a client with seasonal allergies. I was limited to working with only the herbs in our class list, however, and because of that I chose a fairly non-traditional approach to working with allergies. Turmeric was among the herbs we studied, and though I did not end up recommending turmeric for allergies, I realized I easily could have and was probably expected to.

Though I know a lot more about the benefits of turmeric than I did before, there is much research to suggest that the curcumin compound it contains has extremely strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant abilities and it is beneficial in all manner of disorders and imbalances. Among others, it has antibacterial, anticancer, anti-rheumatic, anti-tumor, antiviral, anti-phlegmatic, and anti-parasitic properties. I’ve recommended it to my mom who has arthritis, runner friends for pain, and have taken it myself for (nearly instantaneous) relief after slamming my knee into a door. Though my knee incident was an exception, I take a different approach to using herbs than we would for pharmaceutical drugs; I don’t take them for their quick effect. Instead, herbs work to slowly and gently bring the body back into balance, and they work better in conjunction with other lifestyle supports, like getting enough rest, a balanced diet, exercise, etc.

Turmeric is extremely trendy right now, and while there is good reason for it to be, I also like this article about practicing caution with it, as with all herbal medicines. Too much of anything, even a supposed health food, can push us into imbalance. While I came to this conclusion on my own and no longer pop a curcumin supplement for running recovery “insurance” on a regular basis, I do tend to use it in small amounts frequently–and mostly because I really enjoy its flavor.

What I really enjoyed about the class is that we delved into the research on a number of common herbs and spices–ones we are already using and that aren’t the new trendy superfoods–like the ginger and cinnamon these bars contain. After 14 weeks of reading a ton of research articles, I finished the class even more in support of the importance of eating healthfully as the norm and using herbs and spices in small amounts throughout the day in whatever foods we’re eating so perhaps there’s a little less need to use any medicines–herbal or otherwise–to “fix” imbalances.

 

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Tahini, Date + Turmeric Bars, makes 8
I regularly rely on bars for after workouts and for busy afternoon snacks on the go. While I have a few versions of granola or energy bars on this blog that I do go back to, for the last few months I’ve been opting away from oats and grains as a main ingredient. Instead, I’ve been adapting a new favorite packaged bar. It has taken many renditions but now that I’ve finally gotten the base consistency to my liking (actually better than the packaged bar which I find a little too sweet,) I’m excited to begin delving into a few different flavor combinations, especially as William doesn’t favor my heavy affinity for the ginger/cinnamon/cardamom/turmeric spice combination and prefers the berry/fruity realm instead. For these bars, don’t forego the black pepper, as it helps the turmeric to be become more bioavailable. Additionally, for the options I’ve listed, the first is my favored ingredient but I also enjoyed the other options listed. Enjoy!

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup cashew or almond butter
3 medjool dates, pitted
6 Tbs. hemp protein powder or hemp seeds
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cardamom, optional
dash of black pepper
1 Tbs. brown rice syrup, apricot jam, maple syrup or honey
1-2 Tbs. water, as needed
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried figs or apricots, diced
2 cups crispy rice cereal or 2/3 cup oats, finely ground

  • Puree the tahini, nut butter, dates, hemp, salt, vanilla, spices, and syrup in a food processor until completely combined. Add 1-2 Tbs. water as needed to bring it together, if it’s a little dry. You can also a little more syrup or another date but I found that option a little too sweet.
  • Then add the raisins, diced figs or apricots and crispy rice or finely ground oats. Puree a couple more times until these last ingredients are just incorporated but not completely broken down.
  • Turn out and press into a 8×8-inch baking pan, or something of similar size. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, and then cut into individual bars, store, or eat as needed. They will last in the fridge for at least two weeks with no change in texture/consistency.

The Fall Flavors Raw Brownie

 

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I loaded up on Italian plums at the farmers market last weekend. Their sign said “last of the season” and I sighed because we’ve moved so quickly into the autumn months. It was a game day and all the college students have arrived back in town. These past few days, the temperature still got uncharacteristically up into the ’90s ’round these parts, but the mornings and evenings say summer has ended. It’s dark until 7:00 am. It gets dark at 7:00pm. Blink and those last few plums will be missed. The remaining local peaches sold out early at the market a week ago and the melons are on their final hurrah.

 

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Well and truly, though I’m reluctant to transition at this time every year, I’m a sucker for each new seaon. There are new-again flavors to be savored and weather and beauty in the natural world to be appreciated. Fall is my MOST FAVORITE of all because of the crisp mornings, colorful leaves, and the natural bent of light that slants just so each afternoon. Plus, I like comfy sweaters, hugging my cuppa throughout the day, the return of the rain, and warming spices that mean more in this season than all the others.

 

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The Recipe Redux folks requested a recipe this month with dehydrated food. I don’t have the equipment or the space these days to go all DIY and and get my dehydration-station on, but I do have grandparents that have stocked my parents’ freezer with no small shortfall of prunes. My mom never uses them. I’m the only one who ever takes a random bag home, and even then, I’ve only developed one recipe over the years that I really like to eat prunes in. No longer. They go well with hazelnuts, chocolate, and spices. Plus, they can be enjoyed all season long, since you know, they’re dehydrated and all.

 
 
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This brownie really is lovely and boasts a huge plus: it’s nutrient-dense. I know all my friends and relatives roll their eyes because I make desserts that always have some form of health benefit, but raw desserts are simply the best. These brownies have all the good flavors, natural sugars from the fruit, and are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats from the raw cacao and hazelnuts.

 
 
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Fall Flavors Raw Brownies, adapted from Oh, Ladycakes
2 cups roasted hazelnuts
6 Tbs. cacao powder
pinch salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
8 medjool dates
1/2 cup prunes
1-2 Tbs. water
 
  • In a food processor, blend the nuts, cacao powder, salt, and spices until they are all finely chopped and incorporated.
  • Next, toss in the dates (pitted and halved), and the prunes. Process until a paste begins to form, and add 1-2 Tbs. water until the mixture just begins to form a dough, but isn’t too sticky.
  • Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper, and scoop the brownies in. Flatten them across the whole pan, and then stick in the freezer to harden up for about 30 minutes. They can then be removed and cut into square. If you’re not going to serve and eat them all right away, store them in the fridge or freezer in a covered container. This batch makes about 16 brownies.