Dried Plum + Millet Tabbouleh

 

 

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Disclosure:  I received free samples of California Dried Plums mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Dried Plum Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time. 

 

For me, the spring season means a whole host of grain salads. I tend to eat gluten-free whole grains like millet, brown or black rice, quinoa and buckwheat as the center of many meals year-round, but in the spring, fresh, raw greens and herbs start to take more of the center stage. Inevitably, I end up adding sweet things into these meals, often in the way of fresh or dried fruits.

 

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May happens to be National Osteoporosis Month, and the California Dried Plum Board is hosting a No Bones About It Recipe Redux challenge. As a child with first a dairy allergy and then an extreme dislike for the taste of milk, I was often prompted to drink milk to prevent osteoporosis later in life. Interestingly, it wasn’t until last year that I learned about the many other vitamins and minerals that are also important to bone health like phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins K and D.

 

Dried plums are one of the foods that can help support healthy bones. Emerging research shows that eating dried plums may have positive effects on bone health. Previous studies discovered that eating 100 grams (two servings; about 8- 10 dried plums) of dried plums for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density (BMD) and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women. At Experimental Biology, March 28- April 1, 2015, a current study presented as a poster, examined whether 50 grams (one serving; about 4-5 dried plums) would be as effective as the larger dose. The results indicated that one serving of dried plums may be as effective in preventing bone loss in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women. There are also natural elements in dried plums which help heighten the flavors of other ingredients in a recipe. They can be used as a flavor enhancer, both in savory and sweet dishes.

 

My grandparents must have had a plum tree because for years, every time they visited, they brought us bags of dried plums. My parents still have a ton of dried plums in their freezer and whenever I visit, I take a package or two, as I love experimenting with less-used ingredients and flavors.

 

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This salad hosts both dried plums and a whole bevy of nutrients essential to bone health. More importantly, with flavors inspired by middle eastern cuisine, it tastes delicious.

 

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It’s definitely making its way to the top of my favorite spring grain salads.

 

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Dried Plum + Millet Tabbouleh, serves 4-6

3/4 cup dry millet

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup dried plums, diced

2 large bunches parsley, finely diced

1/2 large bunch mint, finely diced

1 small red onion, finely diced

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. salt

black pepper to taste

1 orange, finely diced (optional, but not at all necessary)

  • In a medium saucepan, add dry millet, water, diced dried plums, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low heat, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, and then remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, dice the herbs and onion and add them to a large serving bowl.
  • Toss the millet and plum mixture with the vegetables and stir in the spices and vinegar. Adjust the seasonings to taste and then serve at room temperature.

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.
 
 

Candied-Orange Spice Prune Loaf

 

Neah and Papa brought prunes.   Every time they come to visit, my grandparents bring food.  When we were younger, it was always a box of doughnuts, and then whatever they had in excess that needed to be shared- a box of apples, walnuts, raisins, some frozen fruit, and, oh yes, prunes.  The prunes were so overly dried that we couldn’t sink are teeth into them; being inventive as I am, I sure tried.  My mother would throw the prunes into the big chest freezer and there they’d stay.  When I started leaving for college, I’d raid the freezer.  I would inevitably take a bag of raisins and walnuts, but always left the prunes.  Sadly, just no easy way to eat them.

On a whim, I finally decided to grab a bag of those prunes on my last trip home.  Surely, they could be used for something.  Then one day in early September, an epiphany.  I kept finding the lovely Italian prune plums at the markets.  I wanted to use them in a loaf of some sort but inevitably kept eating them fresh before I ever got around to baking.  And then, with the last bite of the fresh plums in my hand, I pulled out an old recipe I’d been meaning to adapt and there it was.  The answer.  All these years, I’d been avoiding my grandparents prunes and all they needed was a bit of re-hydration!

Now that I’ve tested this recipe so many times I had to go purchase the not-so-overly dried prunes at our nearby farmstand, I really must say it is my new autumn favorite.  Molasses, prunes, spices, and candied-orange peel.  Not sickly sweet, nor overly-indulging–just a bit of perfection with a nice cup of steaming tea.

Candied-Orange Spice Prune Loaf
9 1/2 oz. gf flour mix (about 2 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup prunes, diced (about 18 whole prunes)
1/3 cup candied orange peel, diced
1/2 cup orange syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 egg 
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
 
  • Pour boiling water over prunes. Let rest for five minutes.  While prunes are resting, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a 9″ x 5″ baking dish.  Line it with a small handful of oats.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  • Measure out orange syrup, molasses, oil, egg and vanilla.  Add them all to the prune mixture.  Feel free to substitute honey for the orange syrup.
  • Pour liquids into dry mixture and stir in the candied peel.
  • Dish into the prepared baking pan.  Level with a rubber spatula and sprinkle a few more oats on top for good measure.
  • Bake for approximately 55 minutes.
  • If you can, store this loaf away in the fridge for a day or two before eating.  The flavors will be enhanced!