Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful time for us to be reminded of all that we have to be thankful for. And this year in particular, I have so much gratitude. I'm so very thankful for:
  • My wonderful husband, who I have so enjoyed being married to. Even though we lived together for a few years, there's just something that's a little different now. After all, we put a ring on it!
  • Family and friends, especially after seeing the outpour of love and support for our wedding. Our hearts are so full!
  • Employment. Enough said.
  • My health and my family's health. May we always feel so great.
  • Having a well-equipped kitchen! And it might sound funny, but I'm thankful for having the curiosity to continue experimenting and cooking. It's nice having a hobby that will nourish my family! 
  • Gingersnap pumpkin pie. It's just so simple; and so good! 
Too obvious of a transition there? Anyway, let's talk about this pie. There is about a month's time each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas where pumpkin pie is relevant. So you've got to maximize on it while you have the opportunity.  

But PIE. Pie can be a little daunting. If you start to get hung up on crust and fillings that need to "set up", you might talk yourself out of making one. But this pie? This pie is a beginner's pie if there ever was such a thing — namely because I've eliminated the traditional dough crust (I was never a huge fan anyway) and replaced it with a gingersnap crust. That means you get a little dose of spicy goodness with each bite you take. (And it also lowers the calories, which is always welcome in my book!) 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cranberry and Dried Cherry Relish

Turkey time is quickly approaching, and I'm sure that a lot of you, like me, have recipes swirling around in your head in preparation. Here's a simple addition to your Thanksgiving table — and it might just be the simplest item to prepare for the big feast.

Homemade cranberry sauce is a bright, sassy, classic Thanksgiving condiment that is a snap to whip up. Yes it's available in jars and cans. But if you have cranberries and about 30 minutes, you've got great homemade side that is lower in sugar and higher in nutrients than the stuff on the supermarket shelf. Just saying!

There are a ton of recipes out there, so my recommendation is to pick one that accommodates your tastes and uses your favorite flavors. This year, I adapted a basic Martha combination, but in previous years I've also experimented with adding fresh ginger, orange, and spices. Be as traditional (not a cop out!) or as adventurous as you want to be, and get to it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roasted Poblano Chicken Enchiladas

I know I'm supposed to be telling you all about my plans for turkeys and potatoes and stuffing of sorts. But what if I just wanted to tell you about these dreamy enchiladas instead? What then? Is that food-blogger blasphemy the week before Turkey Day?

I've always been a rebel.

Well, actually, no I haven't. In fact, when I was getting close to graduating from high school, my dad said to me, "Don't you ever want to get in trouble to see what it feels like? You can get detention if you want!"

So maybe I follow the rules. But there's something that feels a little badass when I'm charring a poblano pepper over an open flame. Yeah, that's right. I meant for that to burn. I meant for the alarm to go off, and for my husband to have to wave a pillow in front of the smoke detector.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cashew Cranberry Chili

I’m a flexitarian. I laugh at myself each time I use it, because it's sort of a made up word that doesn’t really mean anything special, but I use it because it invites questions and stirs up a conversation. I especially use it in my Cooking Matters classes, where I immediately lose the crowd as soon as I say “plant-based diet.” Nuh uh! They’re not giving up their meat. And nor should they. And nor should I.

A flexitarian is also a semi-vegetarian, or a vegetarian who eats meat (Whaaa?). I’m sure true vegetarians roll their eyes at this definition and think we just don’t have the willpower to completely stay away from meat. Maybe for some that’s true. For me, I don’t pretend that I want to avoid meat…I just don’t like paying for it too often.

I like meat. Good meat. Fresh meat that comes from local grass-fed cows, happy pigs and chickens who roam. (Expensive meat). I’m perfectly willing to spend a little more money on something I can feel good about eating, but if I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m a student…an unemployed student. And above all, I enjoy eating a plant based diet. It offers more variety and nutritional benefit and forces me to be creative. Beans give you protein AND fiber (and no fat), nuts and seeds also provide protein, fiber and healthy fats. Add some veggies & whole grains and you're all set!

Here’s a recipe for a vegan chili that’s a little different than your typical bean based chili. I got this from a friend and fellow flexitarian, but I made some changes to suit my tastes (and because I like to break the rules a bit.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marinated Roasted Red Peppers

These roasted red peppers are the color of autumn here on the east coast. I know this for a fact because we went on a beautiful little hike this weekend on the Wissahickon Valley Trail (part of Fairmount Park). We were amazed that the trail was still within Philadelphia's city limits!

Rather than say goodbye to warmer weather, longer days, and fresh veggies from the garden, I'm determined to preserve at least one of these three things.

Late summer and early fall are actually peak season for these sweeter, more colorful beauties — they flourish in the cooler fall weather after a summer of battling the hot sun and little rain. They also take longer to ripen than green bell peppers — hence their later peak.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nice to meet ya!

Thanks for the intro, friend! Danielle invited me to be a guest contributor on Consumed because she thought I could offer a different point of view. I’m honored to be asked to have a voice on this blog, so I hope I have something interesting to share!

As Danielle mentioned, I’m in school studying Dietetics. My curriculum includes food science, biochemistry, and medical nutrition therapy for different disease states; in general, how our bodies process nutrients. Though I continue to eat for flavor and pleasure, it’s hard not to start thinking about food in terms of nutrients…proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It can be daunting to make food choices based solely on the needs of our bodies, but there is a pretty fool proof way to make sure that you get everything you need. Whole foods. No, not the store.

I still go out for a cheeseburger and fries. I still grab an ice cream cone in the summer (or last Thursday). I still buy a bag of tortilla chips and shredded cheese every couple months and live off of nachos for a week. There’s no reason to give up your favorite indulgences, but only if you continue to treat them as such and remember that food is more than just delicious…it’s our fuel and it’s our medicine.

The reason I love Danielle’s recipes is because she makes them using real ingredients. Her brownie mix doesn’t come from a box. Her soups aren’t from a can. Her veggies are fresh and in season, and at the peak of their flavor and nutritional value. This is how we should all eat in order to truly appreciate our food and to ensure proper nourishment of our bodies. And that doesn’t mean we have to get all fancy in the kitchen.

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