Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wild Rice Salad with Butternut Squash and Pomegranate

There's been a lot on my mind lately. It's funny because as I've started writing this, I've typed out at least four different introductions to this post, only to hit the backspace key over and over. There's so much swirling around in this brain of mine, yet only so much can be put into words here. I'm trying to make sense of everything, trying to feel how I truly feel, and really listen. It's amazing how quickly things can change. That's all I can say.
This salad is one that was thought up at the last minute, and it utilizes everything I had in my kitchen at the time. I always like to keep a batch of some sort of cooked grain on hand for throwing into a salad or tossing into a soup. And this time, I had a wild rice blend cooked and ready to be used. I threw in some roasted butternut squash along with sweet caramelized onions and pomegranate. Then, I tossed it with some salty feta, slivered kale, and toasted walnuts. Sweet, salty, chewy, and's what makes up the perfect textures for a salad. Plus, how could you say no to those fall colors?

Wild Rice Salad with Butternut Squash and Pomegranate 

3 cups cooked wild rice blend (or any other grain of your choice)
1 butternut squash
1 large onion
3-4 large leaves of kale
1 pomegranate
1 cup of walnuts
feta or goat cheese (optional)

6 Tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook your grain of choice. While the grains are cooking, peel butternut squash and remove the seeds. Cut into cubes. Put the butternut cubes on a large sheet pan. Thinly slice the onion. Put onion slices on the sheet pan with the butternut squash. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the onion begins to brown and the squash is tender.

2. While the grains cook and the squash bakes, thinly slice the kale. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Make the dressing by combining the dressing ingredients above in a small bowl and wisk well. Crumble up the feta or goat cheese.

3. Remove squash from the oven and let cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Assemble the salad by first combining the grains with the dressing in a large bowl. Then add the butternut squash and onions,  kale, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts. Toss very gently until just combined. Finish with a sprinkling of cheese.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's Nourishing You?: Hannah of Health Yeah

I am beyond thrilled to share this exciting series on Nourish The Roots. It's called "What's Nourishing You?" and it is where I interview some of my favorite bloggers from around the world about food, what it means to them, and what they can't live without in their kitchen. It is truly an honor to feature these women here and I hope you enjoy their thoughts as much as I do.
Today, I'm talking with the lovely and talented Hannah, writer and food photographer of her fabulous blog called Health Yeah. She lives in New Zealand (so awesome, right?!) and I love how she ditches diet labels and identifies herself as a whole-foods lover. She passionately believes in embracing natural, unadultered plant-based foods. She has some incredible recipes on her site, including some amazingly decadent desserts that are totally natural, unrefined, and full of health-promoting ingredients. If her pictures don't convince you, I don't know what will! Check out her interview below (along with some of her mouth-watering food photographs) and be sure to head on over to her beautiful website, as well.
1. What is your food philosophy?
I believe in eating real, nourishing, living food! I've got heaps of thoughts on food - it's so much more than fuel. Next to composting I believe switching to a wholefoods plant based diet is the easiest and most powerful thing we can do as individuals to revolutionize our health and reduce our environmental impact. 
Choosing to eat well is also an act of self-respect and an effective anti-depressant: it nourishes our self esteem as well as our bodies. 
I also believe there is something magic about eating living food - the vibrant colours and flavours of fresh produce, harvested straight from the ground, connects us to nature and teaches us to respect and revere the earth's abundance in a way that processed, profit driven food cannot. 
Finally, you don't have to spend a fortune! Superfoods are nice to have, but fruits and veggies are more important.  
2. What are your non-negotiables when it comes to you diet?
Leafy greens = human jet fuel
Know where your food comes from. 
Make it taste good!

3. What are your 5 favorite ingredients in the kitchen?
Leafy Greens
Grapefruit and lemons
Summer fruits

4. If you could prepare a meal for anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you make?
All the people at Auckland City Mission or all the patients at Auckland Hospital. I would love to put on a huge spread of tasty, healthy, fresh food with lots of leftovers!

Thank you so much, Hannah, for sharing your insight on food with Nourish The Roots. Keep up your incredible work! And readers, be sure to check out Health Yeah for recipes for what you see pictured. The raw vegan Blackberry Coconut Cheesecake, the Quinoa and Buckwheat Granola, and the raw vegan Vanilla Chocolate Mousse Cake are just some of the incredible recipes on Hannah's site!
And you can also follow Hannah on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!


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Monday, October 7, 2013

Sweet Potato Apple Cinnamon Muffins: Vegan and Gluten-Free

It seems like everyone out there has some type of food allergy or sensitivity. Or they're avoiding some type of ingredient. Or they're trying some new diet. I think it's great that more and more people are becoming aware about the food they put in their bodies instead of blindly consuming anything and everything. I'm all about eating quality, whole foods that are healthy and delicious, while avoiding foods that don't help my body in any way. I also think that food allergies are becoming more and more common largely due to the effects of an industrialized food system and compromised digestive systems. It's a sad truth that the number of people who suffer with food related issues is rising.

Over the years, I've tried different ways of eating. I've cut out certain ingredients and then reintroduced them. I've listened to my body and how it felt when I did so. And to be honest, sometimes it's hard to listen to your body when you're inundated with information about how your body should feel. It takes time to really be in tuned with it. I want to be able to support people on their food journey of discovery through this blog. I want to provide recipes that everyone can eat, because I understand what it's like to feel like you can't eat anything. And while my recipes aren't completely allergen-free, (it's impossible to write a food blog without using any allergens...sorry) I try my best to include recipes that almost everyone can enjoy.

These sweet potato apple cinnamon muffins can be enjoyed by many . They're vegan, gluten-free, and refined-sugar free. The base of the muffins is rolled oats and sweet potato, with the added bonus of apples, coconut oil, and coconut sugar. They're as delicious and moist as they are healthy...I know this because my husband practically ate the entire batch in one sitting. So head on over to Life by DailyBurn for this muffin recipe and enjoy.

Click Here for Recipe 

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Best Unsweetened Homemade Apple Sauce

This is my first autumn in Seattle and it's definitely a bit different than what I'm used to from the east coast. For starters, apple picking isn't really a thing here. People look at you funny when you tell them about apple picking. To me, being an upstate New York kinda girl, apple picking equals fall. No questions asked. Everyone piles in the car and you drive out to the apple orchards and pick thirty pounds of apples. Then, you go home and spend the rest of the week whipping up apple pies, apple sauce, apple crisp, apple muffins, apple everything. All the while drinking hot mulled apple cider. It's just what we upstate New Yorkers do.
I searched for you-pick apple orchards near Seattle and the only one I found was about an hour and a half outside of the city. We were willing to take the nice long scenic drive out to this incredible organic apple orchard filled with gorgeous heirloom apple trees. It was nestled at the foot of the northern Cascade mountains and it was breathtaking. The best part (aside from tasting all of the apples), was that we practically had the entire orchard to ourselves. Remember, apple picking really isn't a "thing" here, so yeah.
I returned home with lots of different types of apples; different colors, sizes, textures, and flavors. Aside from just eating them straight up and putting them in my breakfast oatmeal, one of the first things I made was applesauce. To me, there's few things more comforting than a warm bowl of homemade applesauce. And the smell of the apples simmering away on the stove just permeates every corner of my apartment. It's heavenly.
I tend to like my applesauce slightly chunky and I don't mind leaving the apple skins on. This makes the cooking time shorter and really, who enjoys peeling apples? I sure don't. And there are nutrients and fiber in the skins! If you like smooth applesauce, then feel free to peel the skins, cook the apples for longer, or even puree the whole bit with an immersion blender. You can't really go wrong.
In this particular batch, I chose to keep the apples naked, meaning that I didn't add any sweetener to them. I wanted the flavors of the individual varieties (I used six different types) of apples to have a chance to shine and not be overpowered by sweetness. If you're using more tart apples, then perhaps you'd like to add a bit of sweetener. Pure maple syrup would be my preference.
 Homemade Applesauce (makes 4 servings)

7 medium sized organic apples, any variety
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla extract, or whole one vanilla bean

1. Core and slice apples. Set aside. In a deep skillet or pot, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla (of using a whole vanilla bean, split it open and add it to the pot). Stir to coat the apples.

2. Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for about 25 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure the apples cook evenly and so that they don't stick to the pan. Add more water if the sauce becomes too thick.

3. Use a handheld potato masher to break up any larger pieces of apples. Alternatively, you can blend the sauce to make it completely smooth. Taste and add more cinnamon or nutmeg if you'd like. If it needs more sweetness, feel free to add some maple syrup as well. Enjoy!

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Love and Health to You, 

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