Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins

Do you still have a can of pumpkin lurking in your pantry left over from Thanksgiving?  That’s really the great thing about canned food, isn’t it?  Well, I’ve got a great way for you to use it…pumpkin muffins with a healthier twist.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup buttermilk (or make your own from regular or Cholov Yisroel milk)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 large egg
2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional, hazelnuts pictured)

Preheat oven to 375°.Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves well with a whisk in a medium bowl. Combine granulated sugar and remaining wet ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer until relatively smooth.  Add dry mixture to wet ingredients; beat at low speed just until combined.  Gently fold in dried cranberries. Place 12 paper muffin cup liners in muffin pan (you can spray cups and pan with cooking spray if you like).  Spoon batter into cups and top with chopped nuts if desired.  Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center.  Remove muffins from pan immediately and let cool on a wire rack.  Muffins will be dense but moist and make a great breakfast or snack.  (Note: You may fill cups more to make 9 larger muffins [what is pictured here].)

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Slow-Cooker Middle Eastern Black Beans and Rice

This recipe is so easy and is best done in a slow-cooker so it’s twice as convenient.  Just dump everything in, leave it for about an hour, and you have a wonderful, hearty, and vegetarian dinner!

Ingredients:

2 cans of black beans (low-sodium, rinsed)

2 cans of chickpeas (rinsed)

1 can of medium black olives

1 cup white rice (or brown)

3-4 roma tomatoes, chopped

3 cups vegetable stock (low-sodium)

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped finely

2 tbsp paprika

1.5 tbsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp kosher salt

2 tbsp kosher olive oil

Cook the rice according to package instructions (typically, boil 1 cup rice in 2 cups vegetable broth for about 20 minutes) and set aside.  In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and cook until just translucent.  Add garlic and paprika (heating paprika in oil brings out its flavour).  Cook just until garlic softens and then toss in tomatoes and remaining spices.  Lower heat and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes soften.  Empty pan into slow-cooker set on high.  Add remaining 1 cup of vegetable broth, rice, beans, chickpeas, and olives.  Mix well.  Reduce slow-cooker heat to low after about a half an hour.  Mixture is ready to eat when hot, but tastes better after about an hour or two in the slow-cooker on low.  I serve it with whole-grain pita and it easily feeds 4 very hungry adults.

 

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Soup

All of this rain has put me in the mood for some hot and creamy soup.  I know it’s still hot outside, but this is a great recipe for snuggling indoors and pretending it’s already autumn.  This recipe is also jam-packed full of calcium between the Brussels sprouts, the cheese, and the milk.

What  you need:

2 cups Brussels sprouts (frozen works fine)

1/2 cup water

1 cup whole milk or half and half

1/4 cup finely shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

1/8 tsp. Hungarian hot paprika

1/2 tsp. kosher sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. chopped parsley

1/8 tsp. garlic powder (garlic cloves would be too chunky and overpowering I think)

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and then add the Brussels sprouts.  Boil until sprouts are tender.  Pour water and sprouts into a food processor and pulse to desired consistency – about 30 seconds will yield a creamy soup with still a little tasty texture.  Return the Brussels sprouts purée to the saucepan and add milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.  Once the soup is hot, remove from the heat and melt in the cheese.  Garnish with parsley.

Green, calcium-rich, and belly-warming.

Dinner from the Dollar Store

Sometimes, in our efforts to fight for a better food system, the push to ban GMOs and go all organic, and the pleas to save the family farm, we forget about those who are too often already forgotten.  Nearly one in four American children goes hungry each day, and while they need nutritious food, they also just really need food.  What’s more is that many people don’t recognize the very real existence of food deserts in America.  Some people can’t even get to a grocery store, let alone their local [insertorganicgrocerystorenamehere].  For some, the corner convenience store or the dollar store is their grocery store.  I was reminded of this fact this past May at a conference I attended called Food and History: from Theory to Practice at North Carolina State University.  Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson at the University of Maryland College Park specifically gave a talk on the role of dollar stores in feeding those who might otherwise be located in a food desert.  You can watch her presentation from the conference here: “A Dollar Today, A Meal Tomorrow…”

 

In response, below is a meal I created from the local dollar store.  It is relatively healthy, and I thought it was pretty delicious.

What you need for Creamy Seafood Pasta with Roasted Broccoli:

1 box pasta salad mix (I used a creamy Parmesan variety – no bacon!)

1 tin of mackerel fillets packed in oil, drained

1 tin of white tuna, drained

Mayonnaise (see your particular pasta salad mix for the exact amount)

1 lb. bag of frozen broccoli

2 tbsp. sunflower oil/olive oil blend (my dollar store did not sell straight olive oil)

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Blanche your broccoli to thaw it by boiling it in a pot of water for about 5 minutes and then dropping into ice water.  Once the broccoli is no longer hot, drain and place on a shallow baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast until tender and the floret is just slightly crispy (about 25 minutes).  For the pasta, boil the pasta component of the salad mix according to the package directions.  Next, combine the seasoning packet and mayonnaise well and then stir in both tins of fish gently.  Drain and rinse the pasta once al dente and add to the bowl with the seasoning/fish mixture.  Chill or serve slightly warm.

If you already had the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, this meal cost you $5.  That’s $1.25 per person for a family of four – less than the cost of a school lunch.  And, it’s loaded with healthy fats from the fish, mayonnaise, and oil; Vitamin C from the broccoli; and calcium from the pasta.

Creamy seafood pasta leftovers for lunch!

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