Eating Beyond The Holidays (With Recipe)

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A few weeks ago I attended a Thanksgiving cooking demo at We Olive SF, a sustainable olive oil store. Teresa studied holistic nutrition, manages Oak Hill Farm’s CSA program, and has started Can Can Cleanse. Teresa showed us how easy it is to prepare seasonal food for a holiday gathering. It got me to thinking that often times, Seasonal Food is also known as Holiday Food to be only consumed on holidays. Well then, what about rest of the season? We don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving or any holiday to eat fresh, homemade dishes. Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, are available throughout Fall and Winter and there a ton of ways to enjoy these foods.

The dishes served at the holiday dinner table are richer and more decadent (more fats and sugars), which makes that meal so enticing and is nothing to feel guilty about. Though, the same ingredients can be prepared in a healthier way for daily consumption. The food that is grown locally and seasonally should be eaten everyday and not just saved for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  The turkey or ham may take center stage, but the abundance of vegetables (green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, potatoes, Brussels sprouts) really make up the holiday table.

It’s always been all about the vegetables.

Butternut Squash soup is easy to make, delicious, and very healthy.

Brussels Sprouts are another typical holiday side dish that can be enjoyed any night of the week. Brussels sprouts are easy to pack also, so you don't have to resort to fast food for lunch.

Homemade Cannellini Bean and Rosemary Dip

Winter Squash Salad with Arugula, Feta & Pine Nuts

This recipe is modified from Teresa Piro’s Thankful Soups and Sides cooking demo at We Olive SF. It is a mouthwatering salad that looks really pretty and elegant. The salad is packed with antioxidants and flavor that you will want to eat it everyday. The warm squash makes the salad perfect for a cold, winter evening, also.

Ingredients
2 cups Delicata squash, seeded
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
2 tbs pine nuts, toasted

1 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup arugula

Preparation
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut squash into 1 inch squares. In a large mixing bowl,  toss squash,  sea salt, black pepper, and  olive oil to coat the squash well. Evenly lay out the squash on a baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until soft, but not mushy. Remove from oven and let squash cool slightly.


3.  In the same mixing bowl, add roasted squash, feta, toasted pine nuts,  pomegranate seeds, extra virgin olive oil and gently toss. Garnish with arugula and serve.

A warm winter salad of squash, arugula, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds is soul satisfying and super simple to make, and is a perfect everyday meal.

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Farmer’s Market Find: Brussels Sprouts

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I debated going to the market today, since I have a fridge full of leftovers from Thanksgiving. Satish and I both want to keep our meals fairly light this week since we are still digesting our Thanksgiving dinner. I doubted the market would have been busy like last week, so opted on going and enjoying the quietness. There were less farmers today too; perhaps they were gone for rest of the season or just today. I bought a lot of Brussels sprouts. I never was a fan of Brussels sprouts or at least I thought I wasn’t. I actually never even encountered Brussels sprouts until my early 20’s, but I knew I didn’t like them because the kids on TV always hated them. So like broccoli, I thought it was another gross vegetable that no kid on the planet would want to eat. Then I saw just how cute they were at the farmer’s market a couple of years ago and started to cook with them. They are sooo good! I can’t understand why Brussels sprouts have such a bad rap. Anyway, they are super easy and quick to cook too. My favorite way to eat them is cutting them in half, cooking them on a skillet for 5 minutes, then tossing them with lemon juice, olive oil,  pecans, salt and pepper. I like to add shaved Parmesan cheese or dried cranberries when craving a heavier meal.  Cooking Brussels sprouts involve minimal patience and culinary skill. Brussels sprouts are related to the cabbage family and are best when in season. Try picking them in the same size so they cook at the same time. Smaller ones that are tightly closed are best. At the farmer’s markets and some grocery stores, you can buy them with their stalks still intact. This will keep them fresher longer, but storing loose Brussels sprouts in an air tight container will work too.

Brussels Sprouts on their stalk

Weekly Dinner Menu
Sunday: Stuffed Peppers (turkey and gravy), Arugula Salad (pomegranates, goat cheese, pine nuts)
Monday: Squash and Pistachio Quinoa, Kale Salad
Tuesday: Mixed Lentil Pilaf, Brussels Sprouts Salad, Roasted Beets and Persimmons
Wednesday: Turkey Tartine with Cranberry Sauce
Thursday: Sip, Snack and Shop on Chestnut Street
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Dinner at a friend’s place

How was your Thanksgiving?

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Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates

While thinking about how original I can get with the millions of cranberry recipes out there, it struck me like a bolt of lightning.  Okay,  I am being dramatic, but it was that exciting. A few months ago, I made … Continue reading

Taking the Can Out Of Cranberries

Deliciously shaped.

Image via Wikipedia

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Canned cranberries. I thought that was the only way it goes, never even having seeing cranberries in their fruit form. Then sometime 5-6 years ago, I saw Ocean Spray whole cranberries being sold at a supermarket. I popped one in my mouth and was really sorry. I always thought cranberries were really sweet, but was I wrong! I would have never guessed that cranberries were so bitter because they are super, duper sweet when coming out of the can. I examined the ingredients and nutritional information on the can and compared it to the whole, fresh cranberries. Here is what I found:

Canned Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Corn Syrup and Citric Acid

Whole Cranberries
Cranberries

Simple, Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries, water, sugar

Notice the significant difference between the ingredients used to make homemade cranberry sauce and the canned stuff. Sugar is not exactly the same as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and corn syrup. HFCS are created in a lab and does not come from the earth.  If you wish to believe the advertisements and propaganda put on by the industry, who have a lot of money to spare, I will not debate here.  By the way, the industry is calling HFCS and corn syrup “corn sugar nowadays to make it harmless and simple. You can decide for yourself. It’s just bad for you and it’s in virtually every packaged, processed, pre-made product.  The important message here is that you can control the amount of sugar you eat if you make the food at home. You can also choose sugar alternatives (Muscovado sugar, coconut palm nectar, dates, raisins, Agave nectar, raw honey, Stevia).  Also, another thing that everyone should be concerned with is Bisphenol A. BPA needs its own post(s) altogether, but everyone should be cautious of it as it has been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, obesity, just to name a few. BPA is used to line canned and pre-packaged food, which leaches into the food.

Cranberry sauce has to be the easiest Thanksgiving dish, ever. Of course, you can tap into you creative side and jazz it up by adding one or many spices, orange juice, or anything else you seem fit. I started taking pride in making my  cranberry sauce when I read the recipe on the back of Trader Joe’s cranberries and the sight of canned cranberries just make me a little uneasy. Also, cranberry sauce can be made well in advance and actually thickens in the fridge. It’s also super easy (and cheap) to take to potlucks. Check out the recipes below on how to make your own cranberry sauce. Also, if you want to really surprise your guests, try my Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates.

Simple
Homemade Cranberry Sauce– by Pioneer Woman (who won the Thanksgiving Throwdown against Bobby Flay)
Gingered Cranberry by Sauce by Closet Cooking
Jellied Cranberry Sauce by The Bitten Word

Creative
Earl Grey Cranberry Sauce with Dates by Club Dine In!
Bourbon Cranberry Sauce by The Craving Chronicles.

via 5 Second Rule

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Thanksgiving Side Dish: Potatoes Mashed or Not

Follow me on Twitter Mashed potatoes are delicious, but they do take some (messy) prep work  and time which may make you resort the the instant stuff for your side-dish. Instant potatoes have been an American staple for decades. They … Continue reading

Meatless Monday: Pistachio Quinoa and Butternut Squash

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Since Autumn has really hit San Francisco, I have fully embraced the seasonal vegetables. Pumpkin, squash, persimmons, carrots, potatoes, heirloom beans, grapes, pistachios, and pomegranates. Mondays are my favorite days to cook, because my … Continue reading