Butternut Squash Sauce with Sage

Butternut Squash Sauce with Sage

This butternut squash sauce is a healthy alternative to those made with lots of oil and cream. Since I cannot have cooked red tomatoes, cream sauces (as tasty as they are), or oil and herb sauces, like thin pesto, I have to seek alternatives, so this sauce is pretty perfect on gluten-free pasta. Butternut squash is rather low in calories but high in fiber and A and B vitamins. This squash can be cooked in several different ways, baked, roasted, sauteed, in soups, etc. Just make sure you remove the skins, since it is indigestible.

Butternut Squash

This sauce is great on any kind of noodle, especially wheat-free noodles or “spiralized” vegetable pastas. If you are looking for something with fewer carbohydrates, try kelp noodles. Recently, I tried Explore Asian’s gluten-free, vegan, organic edamame spaghetti from Costco, which provides a neat green color and good contrast to the golden hue of the butternut squash. Actually, all of their colorful bean noodles sound delicious; there are lots of color and flavor possibilities with red (adzuki bean), black (turtle bean), yellow (soy bean), and green (edamame or a edamame and mung bean combination) noodles.  They are also all high in fiber, iron, and protein but low in fat and carbohydrates and are sodium free. They have vegan organic red and brown rice and wheat pastas, too.

Halved Squash

Vegan Butternut Squash Sauce
Inspired by Kate’s sauce recipe from Butternut Squash Linguine with Fried Sage.

1 Large (about 3 lbs) Butternut Squash
4 – 8 Large Roasted or Sauteed Garlic Cloves, peeled
1 T Fresh Sage Leaves, chopped
4 Small Kashmiri Chiles
OR 1/2 – 1/8 tsp Red Chile Flakes
1/2 tsp Grains of Paradise
OR 1/2 tsp Peppercorns
1 Pinch Sea Salt
1 – 2 C Vegetable Broth
1 T Olive Oil

Optional Garnishes
Fresh or Fried Sage Leaves
Caramelized Minced Garlic
Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
Daiya Pepperjack Style Shreds
Raw or Roasted Squash Seeds, shelled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the squash stem, and cut the squash in half the squash. With a large spoon scrape out the inside. You can save the seeds to roast and snack on later.

Scooped Out

Place the halves skin side up in a glass baking dish, and add two inches of water. Roast the squash for 45 to 60 minutes or until the flesh is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Carefully remove the squash from the water with large metal utensils, like tongs or serving forks, and set aside to cool. While the squash is cooling, mill the chiles and grains or paradise (or peppercorns) in a spice grinder. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh away from the skin.

Cubed Squash

Cube the squash to ease processing. Put the squash in a food processor with the herbs and spices. Blend in 1 cup of broth and the oil until smooth, adding more broth as needed. Warm to desired temperature. Serve over pasta or vegetables. Garnish as desired.

Turkey Black Bean Chili

Turkey Black Bean Chili

Chili is a nice simple meal without much prep work involved. Mostly, you just have to wait for the beans to soak and then become tender as they cook. The chili is always worth the waiting though, since it is a nice and comforting throughout the year, no matter the season. There are always leftovers to enjoy later or use in other recipes, too, like tacos or hearty vegetable soup. Chili with beans and turkey is full of protein, vitamins, and minerals but low in fat; you can also make vegan chili with all sorts of lentils, beans, and vegetables. Each of the vegetable, protein, and seasoning inclusions can vastly change the overall flavor of the dish; you can make it sweet, spicy, salty, thin, hearty, smooth, or chunky. I even found a raw vegan chili made with marinated vegetables on Golubka. I included many garnish options below for the chili, as well.

To accompany the chili, my family and I made a refreshing side salad, topped with red radishes and avocados in lime juice. I also suggest making a batch of honey cornbread muffins from a gluten-free mix, like Bob’s Redmill. The store I visited for the chili ingredients did not have any, so I made my own cornbread muffins and will post the recipe soon.

Turkey Black Bean Chili
Adapted from Fantastic Black Bean Chili and Sizzling Black Beans Chili
Originally published in June 2012 for Three Chicks Talking about Food as Turkey Black Bean Chili with Green Salad.

Yields 16 to 20 Servings

1 17-oz. pkg Sizzling Black Bean Chili (3 C Dried Black Beans)
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Sweet Onion, chopped
1 Large Red Onion, chopped
7 to 9 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1 lb Ground Turkey Meat
1 T Wine Vinegar
OR 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
1 T Lime Juice
1 + 1 qts Filtered Water
2/3 C Medium Salsa Verde
1/2 to 2/3 C Salsa Fresca
1 C Cherry or Pear Tomatoes, crushed
1 – 1 1/2 C Fresh or Frozen Corn Kernels
4 T Better Than Bouillon Organic Reduced Sodium Chicken Base, dissolved in 1 qt hot water

Optional Garnishes
Daiya Pepper Jack Cheese Shreds
Daiya Cheddar Cheese Shreds
Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Sour Cream
So Delicious Plain Greek Cultured Coconut Milk
Cilantro Springs
Lime Slices

Sort the chili kit contents to separate the dried vegetables from the beans. Discard any wrinkled, discolored, broken beans, and pebbles. Even though the package directions does not call for soaking, always, always, always soak your beans (unless you know they were pre-soaked and then dried) to get rid of the indigestible oligosaccharides, which cause boating and gas. Pour in at least twice as much unsalted water than beans into a large pot, since beans double in size. Do not add any salt until near the very end of cooking; salt prevents the release of the indigestible sugars and the bean fiber from softening. Soak the beans overnight or at least 8 to 12 hours; you can speed up the process if you soak them in warm water. Bubbles will float to the top as the sugars are released. If you add salt too early or don’t soak the beans before cooking, they will take much longer to cook and be harder to digest.

Browning the turkey and onions.

Browning the turkey and onions.

In an oiled stock pot or Dutch oven, saute the garlic and onions over medium heat until the onions become tender and translucent. Add in and brown the ground turkey, stirring with a long-handled spoon. Mix in the spices, beans, dried vegetables, vinegar, lime juice, and 1 quart of water. Cover and simmer for 1 hour on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the corn, tomatoes, salsas, dissolved bouillon, and 1 quart of water. Return the chili to a boil for at least two hours or until the beans are tender and the flavors are blended. Once the beans are soft, turn off the stove. Serve and garnish the chili in bowls to your liking.

Simmering Chili

Simmering Chili

Garlicy Baba Ghanouj

Garlicy Baba Ghanouj

I have enjoyed Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods for absolutely years. I love the medleys of flavors and the aromatic spices. In addition, I really like healthy dips and palate-exciting ways to eat fruit and veggies. Baba ghanouj (it has many spellings) is nutritious and delicious. It can be eaten as a dip or condiment (such as a sandwich spread), and you can eat it along side hummus, or go all out with a big Mediterranean mezzeh platter of dolma, falafel, kubbeh, tabbouleh, shawarma, cheese, figs, melon, artichokes, yogurts, fattoush, green salad, etc. Yum, yum! You could probably also make baba ghanouj into a salad dressing.

The other day I made baba ghanouj with sonomafoodgirl. (Thank you so much for helping!) I’m so glad we finally made it. The Hummus Guy at the farmers market is often sold out when I try to buy it, so I gave up on waiting. It’s probably cheaper to make my own anyway. My version is inspired by Denise Hajibrahim’s recipe. I added more garlic though.

If you are making the dip for yourself you can just mix everything together to store in in jars, or if you are making it for a party, you can also plate the baba ghanouj with some tasty decorative herbs and spices. Both of the methods described below. The part of preparation is waiting for the eggplant to finish cooking.

Garlicy Baba Ghanouj
I originally posted this recipe in November 2011 on Three Chicks Talking About Food.

4 Medium to 6 Large Cloves Raw or Roasted Garlic, minced
Pinch Sea Salt
1/2 C Lemon Juice
1 C Tahini Paste (Sesame Seed Butter)
2 Medium Eggplants
3 T Olive Oil, garnish
4 T Sesame Seeds, garnish
3 T Parsley, chopped garnish
2 T Smoked or Sweet Paprika or Ground Chili, garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the eggplants in foil, and bake them for 30 to 40 minutes or until the flesh is soft. Set the eggplants aside for 15 minutes to cool a bit. Be patient. Be careful not to burn yourself. The eggplants are still very hot. Unwrap them. Cut off the tops. Carefully peel off the skins with either a fork or your fingers, but try not to peel away the tasty goodness just beneath the skins. Cut the flesh into chunks for easier blending.

Peeling Eggplant

In food processor or in a mixing bowl with a fork, combine garlic and salt. Mix in lemon juice and tahini until well combined. Add in eggplant and process or mash together until smooth.

Blended Baba Ghanoush

Spoon the mixture into the middle of a large plate or shallow dish. Spread it evenly from the center in a circular motion with a spoon by simultaneously turning it.
If you are using a plate, create a moat in a circle around a center “island” with the back of the spoon. Just fill the space. It doesn’t not have to be symmetrical; wobbly ovals and ellipses are just as tasty. If you don’t like the way it looks though, you can always smooth it out and start over.
For a shallow dish, use the spoon to evenly spread it out and fill in all of the corners.
Garnish the middle with parsley. Sprinkle paprika around edge of the dip. Pour the oil into the well you created earlier or drizzle it across the top.

These are only two ways to serve the dip. You can always decorate in different patterns or shapes. There are also many flavor variations of baba ghanouj out there with different herbs and spices, like chile powder, cayenne pepper, smoky/sweet paprika, ground sumac berries, fenugreek leaves, cilantro, flat or curly parsley, fresh/roasted/pickled garlic, cumin, coriander, sesame seeds, etc. Keep in mind there are different varieties of eggplant, too. You also can always forgo decorating entirely, merely processing everything together and mixing the extra seasonings in last, or leave them out completely. Just make sure you store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Carrot Cake with Almond Flour

Carrot Cake with Almond Flour

The other day, I happened to stumble upon Elana Amsterdam’s website while looking for a gluten-free carrot cake recipe for a girl friend’s birthday. I wanted to ensure there was something I could actually eat and not merely drool over from afar. The carrot cake on her website looked amazing and very similar to the spice cake in her almond flour cookbook but contains raisins rather than chopped prunes. I also really enjoy spice cake, too, by the way, so I shall have to try out this recipe later but with either her Creme Patissiere (also in her almond flour book) or the vegan cream cheese frosting I used on my Chocolate Chip Beet Brownies, not the creme fraiche or the whipped cream that she recommends (I’m allergic).

I love the almond flour recipe book by Elana Amsterdam! It contains so many great recipes (including almond flour pancakes) and inspiring pictures. She also wrote Paleo Cooking and Gluten-Free Cupcakes, which look equally amazing. Elana was diagnosed with celiac disease at least 10 years ago, which caused her to completely change her diet and become gluten-free.

Here's a picture of it without frosting.

Here’s a picture of the cake without frosting.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
Adapted from Elana Amsterdam’s carrot cake recipe from her website, Elana’s Pantry.
Elana topped her carrot cake with coconut cream frosting, but I topped my cake with the same cream cheese frosting that I spread on my Chocolate Chip Beet Brownies.
I originally posted this recipe in February 2016 at Three Chicks Talking About Food.

Yields 12 Servings

5 T Chia Seeds, course ground
1 C Pineapple Juice
1/2 C Warm Filtered Water
3 C Almond Meal or Blanched Almond Flour
1 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 T Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/4 C Unsweetened Apple Sauce
2 T Grapeseed Oil
3 C Raw Carrot Puree
1 C Thompson Seedless Raisins, chopped or pureed
1 C Prepared Chopped Walnuts or Pecans, optional
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, optional

Mix the chia meal, juice and water together thoroughly with fork in medium bowl. Set aside for 15 so 20 minutes to allow seeds to gel, stirring every five minutes to prevent clumping.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour-dust a glass 9″ X 13″ baking dish.

With a fork, mix the flour, salt, and spices in a large bowl, breaking up any lumps.

Mix two tablespoons agave, the apple sauce, and oil into the chia “eggs.” Add in the puree, raisins, and nuts (if you are using them). Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Add up to the last remaining two tablespoons of agave to achieve your desired level of sweetness.

Pour the batter into the baking dish. Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 35 minutes of baking will provide moist, bread pudding-like consistency, whereas cooking off more liquid will lend to a more cake-like confection. Cool completely on a rack away from heat. Frost the top of the cake as desired for a sweet dessert, or exclude the frosting for a delectable anytime treat. Serve and enjoy!

Chicken Madras Curry

Chicken Madras Curry

I love curry! My husband and I actually eat curry quite often, and whether it’s Indian, Himalayan, Chinese, Thai, or Japanese, we love them all. I really like the way the flavors meld together to elevate humble looking dishes with surprisingly complex bold flavors. There are also varying levels of heat; my husband and I enjoy spicy food, often ordering hot curry rather than mild or medium. The curry recipe below is not as spicy as the traditional versions and can be spiced with as many chiles as you like. We ate the chicken for several meals over rice and vegetables, like carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. The recipe is very versatile and can also be used to cook different proteins, from lentils to meat.

Although the city of Madras (now named Chennai) is in Southern India, most likely this spice was a British creation, much like tikka masala, and was later brought to India. There are many versions of Madras curry, varying from region to region, depending on availability of ingredients. Some are red or golden (depending on the chiles and amount of turmeric) and can be a combination of smoky, sweet, savory, salty, and earthy. As you can see below, Urban Accents’ Madras curry is more complex than my Madras Curry Spice Mix. Check out this article to get ideas for more flavor experiments.

Chicken Madras Curry
Based on Authentic Indian Chicken Madras Curry from Food 2 Please and inspired by Urban Accents’ Madras Curry Stew Mix.
Make this curry ahead of time; chilling the curry for several hours will make skimming oil off the top much easier. You can use the oil as a flavorful substitute for butter or cooking oil in other dishes.

2 tsp Coriander Seeds
2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 T Dried Broken Birdseye Chiles
OR 1 T Red Chile Flakes
1 T Ground Turmeric
2 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Chat Masala Spice Mix
2 T Better Than Chicken Bullion
2 C Hot Water
2 T Olive Oil
4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 Leek, sliced
8 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 C Dates, chopped
2 Medium Heirloom Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 Dried Curry Leaves
1 pkg Urban Accents Madras Curry Stew Mix (combination of coriander seed, mustard seed, fenugreek seed, cumin seed, chile pepper, fennel seed, black peppercorns, ginger, cinnamon, clove, sea salt turmeric, and garlic)
OR 1 oz Madras Curry Spice Mix
2 Cans Coconut Milk

Roast the coriander, fenugreek, and cumin seeds with the chiles in a hot, dry, pan for 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer them to a bowl to cool. Grind the seeds and chiles in a spice mill. Mix these spices with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and chat masala in a small bowl. In a large measuring cup, dissolve the bullion in the hot water and set aside. Pour the oil into a crockpot. Add the chicken, leek, garlic, dates, and tomatoes. Add all the spices. Pour in the remaining liquids. Cook the chicken curry on low for 9 hours or on high for 4, stirring half way through. Stir again when the crockpot switches to warm. If chicken is tender, carefully break it apart in the pot with a wooden spatula or spoon. Be careful not to splash the sauce; it is hot and can stain. If the chicken does not break apart easily, add 1 to 2 cups of water and cook it on low for another two hours. Serve hot with rice or vegetables. This curry is even better on the second day.