Molasses Pepper Cookies

molasses cookies

I wanted to get this in before you are completely sick of baking.  I hope I’m not too late ‘cuz these cookies are SO worth it.  I adapted the recipe from Tori Ritchie, a local cookbook author and TV chef, who writes a wonderful blog called “Tuesday’s Recipe.”  After further review, Tori gives the original credit to the San Francisco Chronicle, which is often what happens when something is THAT good.  It gets passed on umpteen times.

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Raw Goji Berry Truffles

truffles

It’s that time of year when we get to make and eat everything we want, right?  Well, almost.  And if you follow this site, you can pretty much enjoy the most tantalizing goodies without breaking the weight bank, so to speak.  It’s day three of another “Gluten Free Progressive Dinner Party” and this month we are focusing on desserts.  Wahoo!  Today’s theme is chocolate, and I am sharing a simple recipe which can be served as dessert or under the tree.  It comes from that delicious experience at Esalen by Leslie Cerier.

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Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz

AlkaSeltzerFizz

If you can complete the rest of this jingle, you are in my age bracket (or beyond;-)  Of course I’m referring to the Alka Seltzer commercial,  and relief of indigestion.  Just a guess, but there may be some of that going on these next few days, so I thought I’d give you a break from Thanksgiving overload (so to speak) and offer some helpful tips on how to prevent stomach upset or how to help calm it down.

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Pumpkin Pecan "Cheese"cake

pumpkin cheesecake

Here we are at the final destination of our “Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner Party,” and as most of you know, it’s my favorite course: dessert!  I am a freak for pumpkin – in the form of pie, cookies, muffins or cheesecake.  I try to extend the ’season’ as long as I can just to savor its creamy goodness.  But being the wholesome baker that I am, I am always finding new ways to adjust the sweetness (and the type,) as well as the crust.  In keeping with our gluten free focus, I have mastered (!) a decadent pecan crust which pairs beautifully with the filling.  Which, by the way, does not contain any cheese, but uses yogurt adding a refreshing tang with every bite…

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Goat Cheese with Cumin and Mint

goat cheese pom

I am part of something new and exciting this week.  Seven fellow food writers are joining together for a “Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner Party”  and you are invited to attend!  Each of us will be offering recipes every day this week comprising an entire holiday meal. You will have several options for each category, depending on taste and food combinations.  Yesterday we started with beverages at Whole Life Nutrition and Gluten Free Organics.  Today I will be presenting an appetizer, along with two more from Book of Yum and Gluten Free Organics.

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Fresh Pumpkin Pudding

I figured we all have pumpkin on hand this week…so I thought I’d share some tips on how to bake the flesh inside, and put it to several yummy uses.  Most of the baking recipes call for Sugar Pie pumpkins, but you can also cook with acorn or butternut squash if you prefer.  This pumpkin pudding is so easy and a great make-ahead when entertaining, or great for breakfast, too!

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O'Fennel and Cabbage

As a good Irish girl, I’ve decided to go green this month.  OK, every month, but I mean with regards to my material here.  As you know, this site is dedicated to whole foods in season – and this week’s feature is fennel.

Fennel is a relative of  the celery family and a wonderful healing food.  Sweet fennel, also known as anise, offers a licorice flavor and is mostly used as seed which was made into ‘gripe water’ for babies to soothe their bellies.  Chewing on the seeds acts as an adult digestive aid and breath freshener. Click to continue reading »

Healthy Holiday Cookies

As my sourdough starter activates, rye berries soak, and granola bakes…I actually found time to squeeze in this yummy recipe from a new fave book, “Baking with Agave Nectar,” by Ania Catalano.  (I mean we all need our just rewards!) These cookies use seasonal ingredients which are colorful (green and red:), high in fiber and mostly available at Trader Joe’s.  (I’m sure you have agave nectar on hand since my post on all the health benefits over white sugar. ) And shhh – they’re vegan! Even as we get down to the wire, these are quick and easy.  You, too, might find a moment to whip up a batch – for dessert on Christmas, a last minute gift, or a high protein pick me up for the big guy.

Cranberry Oat Jumbles

1/2 C grapeseed oil
1/2 C agave nectar
1/4 C firm organic silken tofu
1 TB vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 C spelt flour (or whole wheat)
1 C rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/4 C ground flaxseeds
1/2 tsp. baking soda
/12 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 C dried cranberries
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/4 C raw pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 325.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Blend oil, agave, tofu, vanilla and almond extracts in food processor until smooth, about 2 minutes.  In large bowl, combine the next 6 ingredients and mix well.  Fold in cranberries and seeds.  Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Makes 18-24

Pumpkin Primer

Wait!  Don’t send your pumpkin to the compost pile without extracting the fleshy goodness inside.  There are a variety of ways to use pumpkin,  the least of which is in baking.  The moisture is absorbed beautifully by whole grains, making the end result moist and tender.

Pumpkin is highly nutritious and most noted for its seeds, which are full of protein and EFAs (essential fatty acids.)  But the meat itself also has many health properties. It helps prevent cancers, cataracts, and regulates blood pressure.  Key nutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium and beta-carotene, which explains why it prevents visual impairment.

Your recipe will determine the preparation of the pumpkin. For baking I prefer to roast it to bring out golden, caramel flavors. The best pumpkins for baking are sugar pumpkins which tend to be a little smaller than the ones we use for carving.  To bake, cut in half and scoop out all the pulp and seeds (save those for toasting.)  I sprinkle a splash of olive oil on top and bake at 350 until tender (which could take up to an hour.)   Once cooled, you will have enough for the following recipe, and maybe more for a vegetable curry.

Pumpkin Muffins

2 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ C unsalted butter
¾ C Sucanat or brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C fresh or canned pumpkin (you can also use sweet potato)
1 C chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are best)
Pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare two muffin tins with liners.

Whisk together first seven ingredients in medium bowl.

Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.  Mix in vanilla and pumpkin.  Add dry ingredients, blending gently until moist.  Stir in nuts.

Scoop batter into muffin cups and top each with pumpkin seeds.  Bake until toothpick comes out clean, approximately 22-24 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on rack for five minutes before removing muffins from pan.

>>Let me know if you have a favorite recipe for toasting the seeds!