Ah, the joys of autumn...the vibrant colors of the trees tantalizing the eyes, the crisp air refreshing our bodies, and of course the fun and joy of the approaching holidays.
This is the time of the year that we enjoy the amazing pumpkin which gives us the gastronomic satisfaction of yummy pumpkin pie and the creative satisfaction of making a scary jack-o-lantern. The other wonderful thing about the pumpkin is its often overlooked seeds. Pumpkin seeds contain enormous amounts of valuable nutrients and are darn tasty too.
A tradition of mine every Halloween is to pick out the perfect pumpkin, open it up and pull out all the seeds to toast, and then carve it. The seeds are easy to get to and fun to pull out as they are surrounded by the squishy pumpkin strings inside that are just plain fun to handle. It makes you feel like a kid again!
Once you separate the seeds from the pumpkin strings, rinse them off and let them dry on paper towels. You can then put them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and sprinkle with spices such as salt or paprika, or cinnamon and sugar, or what ever flavors you want them to have, and then toast them in the oven. Yummy!
So aside from how yummy they are you ask, "what are their nutritional benefits?" Well, according to research pumpkin seeds have high concentrations of zinc. Zinc is important in the treatment and prevention of male prostrate problems, enhancing wound healing, and helps support the immune system.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and niacin. These little guys are a powerhouse of nutrition and are easy to incorporate in your diet.
So get a pumpkin, have fun creating a work of art, and don't forget the seeds. Toast them and enjoy!
Here is a recipe I created that will make your morning more glorious…If you want to sub spelt flour for the all purpose flour, go for it! Or maybe sub coconut oil or applesauce for the vegetable oil. You could also experiment with lessening the white sugar and subbing with a bit of maple syrup or honey. As usual, I encourage you to play with your food, be creative and have fun!
And of course make every morning, glorious!
Stacey’s Morning Glory Muffins
2/3 cup raisins
2 cups organic all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
3 Tablespoons water & 1 Tablespoon flaxmeal (or add one more egg)
2 organic eggs (or flax eggs: 2 Tbsp flaxmeal, 6 Tbsp water, let sit till thick)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 – 15oz can of crushed pineapple, drained. Reserve 1/4 cup of the juice
The holiday season is here! Crisp weather, cozy sweaters, family gatherings, shopping excursions, parties, endless errands… and the list goes on.
It is a busy time of year and when we are so busy we sometimes forget to properly nourish ourselves. Either we skip a meal or we grab whatever is convenient but not necessarily healthy.
This in turn can make us hangry, feel yucky, and zap our energy.
Want to know what to do about this? READ the full article here....and enjoy my easy recipe for Maple Cinnamon Granola Bars to stay vibrant and energized this season.
Fresh basil....mmm, I just can't get enough of it. Its piquant aroma, vivid green color, and Italian roots puts me under its spell.
Tonight I decided to make a pesto from the basil I picked up at the farm stand the other day and serve it on top of zoodles (raw zucchini noodles). Pesto is incredibly easy to make, but seems so gourmet. I beefed up the gourmet factor by using macadamia nuts and a drizzle of white truffle oil. Yessssss...I love you Pesto!
Pesto - makes 2-3 servings
1 bunch of fresh basil, washed and dried
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape)
salt to taste
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
(if not vegan, 1/4 cup vegetarian parmigiano reggiano cheese)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
drizzle of white truffle oil
In a small food processor puree basil, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt. Add macadamia nuts and blend. Add optional cheese, olive oil, and truffle oil and blend until a creamy consistency. Adjust olive oil and salt amounts to taste and texture.
If you are vegan and not using the cheese you could try a tablespoon or more of nutritional yeast to get that cheesy umami to the pesto. Toasted sesame seeds also add some interesting flavor.
Serve over zucchini noodles, warm pasta, roasted veggies, with a hot toasty baguette and fresh tomato, or straight from the bowl. Divine.
In the spirit of Christmas I am writing this article on the vivacious and marvelous sunflower, which in my opinion is one of nature's most precious gifts.
I am thankful for its sunny characteristic that consistently brings a smile to my face and fills my spirit with joy. How can one not be fascinated by this unique flower that continuously seeks out the sun. It reminds me of how we should live...by always seeking the sunny side of life.
The sunflower, Helianthus Annus, originated in the American southwest and was eventually brought to Europe and other parts of the world to cultivate. This amazing plant is used not only in the cut flower industry but also for its oil and seeds. The sunflower head is actually a composite of hundreds of tiny flowers which mature into fruits which are what we know as the "seeds." The outer covering of the "seed" is inedible and the inner part is the true seed which we can eat.
Sunflower seeds contribute a wealth of nutrition to us in the form of essential fatty acids (the good fats), vitamin E, protein, fiber, phytochemicals, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, zinc, folate, and iron. These little guys are great for boosting the immune system due to their high content of antioxidants.
Can you believe these tiny little things give us so much? Seeds are truly the spark of life giving us everything we need for vitality, so it is important to incorporate more of them in our diets.
Some ideas on how to incorporate these nutritional powerhouses in your diet include simply snacking on them (in small amounts as they are concentrated in fats), tossing them on salads or in cereals, adding them to stir-fry or grain dishes, and incorporating them into granola or trail mixes.
You can experiment with them and substitute sunflower seeds for other ingredients such as pine nuts in pesto. Here is a simple homemade granola bar recipe that you can make for your family or give away for holiday gifts this season:
Homemade Granola Bars - makes about 5 or 6 bars
1/4 cup raw honey, agave or brown rice syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats (not quick!)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds
pinch of ground cinnamon - or more to taste
In a sauce pan over low temp heat honey with peanut butter until blended. Remove from heat and add vanilla. In a separate bowl combine rolled oats, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and a pinch of cinnamon. Add the warm wet mix to the dry and stir evenly.
Lightly spray a loaf pan with cooking spry and press the mix evenly in it. Let dry and cut into bars. Simple, healthy, and quick! You can be creative with this recipe and add other ingredients as you like.
So now that your ready to go out and buy sunflower seeds let me add a quick note on how to buy and store them because they can go rancid quite quickly. Purchase raw hulled sunflower seeds from stores with high turnover. Store them in a dark glass bottle in the fridge.
You can sprout the seeds and then roast/cook them for easier digestion. Lightly roasting the seeds can reduce the effects of rancidity. Other than that, go ahead and enjoy nature's gift to us. Happy Holidays!!!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.