Sunday, October 20, 2013

Simple, Healthy, Awesome Pumpkin Bread

The title pretty much sums this one up. It's simple--no streusel toppings, mix-ins, or glazes (though feel free to add your own). It's healthy--100% whole wheat, minimal sugar. It's awesome (as in amazingly delicious, moist, spicy, and comforting).

The bread needs no more words!

Simple, Healthy, Awesome Pumpkin Bread


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup milk (dairy or nondairy; I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2/3 cup sucanat or light brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites (or just use 2 whole eggs)
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, milk, sucanat or sugar, and eggs.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk just until combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  5. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. Or gobble it up while it's still warm.


Okay, maybe a few more words can be said about the bread... Words like "it's even more awesome with homemade ginger cranberry apple butter." Yeah, that should do it. 

Ginger Cranberry Apple Butter


Ingredients:
  • about 2 1/2 cups diced apples (no need to peel them; I used Macintosh)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons sucanat or light brown sugar (or even maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup apple juice or apple cider
Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot, cook over high heat until the apple juice is rapidly boiling.
  2. Reduce to medium heat, cover, and cook for 5-10 minutes, until all of the cranberries are popped and the apples are tender.
  3. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. 
  4. Pour the sauce back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat until it's thickened as much as you'd like. Mine was the consistency of jam or preserves. Make sure you stir frequently to prevent burning.

Marine Corps Marathon update: ONE WEEK! I ran 3 miles on the treadmill yesterday with no ankle pain, but my ankle is a little sore today...not really a good sign. Right now, I'm hoping I can bang out the marathon with plenty of walking breaks and be able to continue training for the Dopey Challenge in January without too long of a setback. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Butternut Squash Risotto

What's more comforting than creamy risotto with roasted, sweet butternut squash? Nothing.

I'm so glad I received a request for a recipe for butternut squash risotto, because it's really exactly what I want to eat all season long, and now I have a go-to recipe for it!

I made this risotto with short-grain brown rice for its whole grain goodness, but also because it's nuttier, chewier, and heartier than white rice, which I think makes for an even more satisfying dish.

Butternut Squash Risotto


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 a medium butternut squash (I used just the neck), cut in 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • ground nutmeg
  • olive oil cooking spray
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil, then spray with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the butternut squash cubes on the baking sheet, spray evenly with cooking spray, then sprinkle with paprika, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on the edges and soft.
  3. Meanwhile, place rice in a medium pot and fill the pot half-way with water (no need to measure). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain (but do not rinse) the rice.
  4. In a large, shallow pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the rice and stir until any excess liquid from the rice has cooked off.
  5. Add the vegetable stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed after each addition. Once you have added all 3 cups of stock, you should be left with a creamy, loose rice that is fully cooked.
  6. Stir in the fresh sage, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste, and the roasted butternut squash.
Notes:
  • Short-grain brown rice can be found in most supermarkets, and can easily be bought fairly inexpensively in the bulk section at stores like Whole Foods. If you don't want to use brown rice, you can substitute regular Arborio rice, and just skip the step where you parboil the rice.
  • Speaking of parboiling the rice, I did that to cut the cooking time. Normally, brown rice takes about twice as long as white rice to cook, so making risotto would be a pain in the neck. Parboiling the rice didn't affect the creamy texture but cut out a huge chunk of time!
  • When you drain the rice after parboiling, do not rinse it! This will remove the starch from the outside of the grains, and that's what we need to make creamy risotto.
  • If you bought a whole butternut squash, like me, here's my suggestion for using it in this recipe: Cut the squash across where the neck ends and the bulb starts. The neck is solid and can be cubed easily after being peeled. However, the bulb holds all the seeds and is a pain to cube. So I cut the bulb in half vertically, scooped out the seeds with a spoon, and roasted the halves cut-side up alongside the cubes to make "bowls". The bowls need to bake for an hour, so just put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes after removing the cubes.
  • Don't leave out the nutmeg. Just don't.
  • Traditionally, risotto is finished by stirring a pat of cold butter in at the end to make it richer and improve the texture. I didn't do it, but if you're making this for a special occasion--go ahead and stir it in. You probably won't regret it.
Enjoy the holiday weekend and keep the requests coming!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

With October comes awesome fall weather that makes me crave all things pumpkin and spiced for breakfast with hot coffee. Enter these pumpkin spice waffles. They will definitely be a staple in my book for fall weekend breakfasts and I already can't wait to make them again so I can freeze them and stick them in the toaster before class!

Pumpkin Spice Waffles
 Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 6 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Directions:
  1. In a small bowl, mix the flaxseed meal and hot water. Set aside to thicken.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the sucanat, pumpkin pie spice, flour, and baking powder.
  3. Stir the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, almond milk, and flaxseed mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
  4. Heat a waffle iron on high heat, spray well with cooking spray, then drop a large spoonful of batter onto the iron and cook until deep golden brown.
  5. Make sure you spray the waffle iron well between each waffle or they will stick. Trust me.
 
 
Make these ASAP, and then go for a run for me, since I'll be on the sidelines for a little bit. I attempted a 20 mile run with Team in Training as my last long run before tapering for the Marine Corps Marathon and made it a whopping 6 miles before having to drop out. My ankle started aching around mile 4 and had turned into a sharp, stinging, crippling pain by mile 6. No fun.
 
I'm still really bummed about today, since I was so excited to get in another long run and be super prepared for the marathon in a few weeks. But things like this happen, I guess, so I'm working on wrapping up my pity party and doing everything I can to get healthy so I can get back out there!