Butternut Squash and Cashew Puree with Cranberry Cinnamon Goat Cheese

Butternut Squash and Cashew Puree with Cranberry Cinnamon Goat Cheese

Cinnamon, honey, nutmeg and warm, melty butter make this recipe an instant classic, and it’s very easy to make- as long as you have the right tools. Of course you can add more of the mulling spices (all spice, clove and so on), I just used what I had on hand. I also prepared the butternut squash the night before in a crock pot (while I slept), because I knew I wouldn’t have time to roast it in the oven today. But by all means, roast it in the oven if you’d like. Directions for roasting butternut squash can be found in my recipe for Curried Butternut Squash Soup. I came up with this recipe because I wanted to bring a dish to my grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, but I wanted it to be something that I had never made before (and, believe me, it was hard not to add curry to this, but I figured my grandma wouldn’t be a big fan of that). I was inspired after watching a marathon of Chopped last night where someone made a similar dish with sweet potatoes and goat cheese. The judges where just raving about it! I figured if they loved it so much, my family would, too. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!

(P.S. they loved it!)

This can easily be made vegan by using maple syrup instead of honey and earth balance buttery spread in place of real butter. Makes about 5 side dish servings.

What you will need:
a food processor, large skillet and immersion blender (you can get away with not using the immersion blender, it just won’t be as creamy)
2 small butternut squash (or 1 big one)
2/3 c cashews (I used salted)
2 spoonfuls of honey
3 tbs butter
a couple pinches (or more) of cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch or 2 of pink Himalayan sea salt
crumbled cinnamon cranberry goat cheese for a tasty garnish

Preheat the crock pot to high heat. Wrap the butternut squash in foil and add to the crock pot. Cook on high heat for 4 hours. Remove and let cool for 15 minutes before handling. Cut the butternut squash in half, remove seeds and discard. Scoop out the butternut squash into the food processor along with the cashews, honey, butter, spices and salt (I kept taste testing until I had the flavor I desired) and blend until the cashews aren’t big chucks anymore. Heat your skillet to medium low heat and cook for 10 minutes, letting the cashews soften. Transfer to a serving bowl and use the immersion blender to completely smooth out any chunks of cashews that might be left. Serve with cranberry cinnamon goat cheese sprinkled on top.

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Slow Cooker Green Bean Casserole

SAM_4432This recipe for green bean casserole uses fresh green beans instead of canned and delicious porcini mushroom bisque (which also works GREAT as a vegetarian mushroom gravy!) instead of what most traditional recipes call for, which is Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. I did stick to the traditional topping of French’s Fried Onions, though. It’s an easy recipe that can be thrown into the crock pot for 2 1/2 hours while you prepare the rest of your holiday meal. Makes about 6-8 side dish servings.

What you will need:

a crock pot and very large skillet
2 lbs. fresh green beans
8 oz crimini mushrooms (I used the washed and sliced ones to make things a little bit easier)
1 1/2 cans of Amy’s Mushroom Bisque with Porcini Mushrooms (Amy’s condensed mushroom soup also works great for this recipe and makes for a really good gravy, too.)
1/2 c almond milk (or your milk of choice)
2 1/2 tbs butter
Swiss cheese slices
6 oz French’s Fried Onions
1 small sprig of fresh rosemary

Rinse green beans and let dry. Remove stems by snapping them off and discard. Then snap the green beans in half. Meanwhile, turn the crock pot on high heat and let it warm up. In a very large skillet, melt the butter and add the green beans and mushrooms and cook until the veggies soften (about 15 minutes). Add Amy’s Mushroom Bisque, almond milk and fresh rosemary and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Then, transfer the mixture to the crock pot, cover with Swiss cheese slices (I think I used about 8) and top off with about half of the French’s Fried Onions. Cook on high heat for two and a half hours. You’ll know it’s done when the edges of the cheese start to brown and get nice and crispy. Sprinkle more of the French’s Fried Onions on top and serve with Thanksgiving dinner.

Lemon and Ginger Immunity Boosting Tea

Lemon and Ginger Immunity Boosting Tea

It’s getting dark earlier, the wind is crisp and chilly, and you, and everyone around you, is coughing and sneezing with a runny nose. That right, it’s cold and flu season. You head to the pharmacy for cold medicine, when really, you should head to the produce aisle instead.

Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is great for fighting colds. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) found in lemons demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects, and is used as complementary support for asthma and other respiratory symptoms plus it enhances iron absorption in the body; iron plays an important role in immune function. Lemons also contain saponins, which show antimicrobial properties that may help keep cold and flu at bay. Lemons also reduce the amount of phlegm produced by the body.

Garlic has long been used by the Cherokee Indians as an expectorant for coughs. Its antibacterial properties make it great for treating infections, digestive disorders and fungal infections.

Cayenne pepper, by weight, is relatively high in vitamin A. It also contains vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium and manganese. The capsaicin in cayenne dilates the blood vessels and speeds metabolism. This increases circulation and blood flow to all major organs which facilitates oxygen and nutrient delivery.

Ginger contains chemicals called sesquiterpenes that specifically target rhinoviruses, the most common family of cold viruses, as well as substances that suppress coughing. It’s also a natural pain and fever reducer and a mild sedative, so it can help you rest when you’re sick.

This tea can be sweetened with either maple syrup or honey. They’re both not just sweeteners, they actually help ward off a cold, too!
Maple syrup contains essential nutrients like zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium. Zinc not only supports reproductive health, but it also helps to keep your white blood cells up, which assist in the protection against colds and viruses. If possible, buy locally made maple syrup.
Honey has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. If you have a sore throat, honey will help sooth and heal it.

All of these ingredients mixed together creates a powerhouse for knocking out colds. Add a little bit of green tea, yerba matte tea, or jasmine tea to add to the immune boosting power of this vitamin packed tea. Start drinking this tea before you start feeling sick to help prevent a cold from even happening!

What you will need:
1 lemon, cut in half
1 piece of ginger, about as long as your middle finger, cut into discs
1-2 cloves of garlic
About 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 spoonful of maple syrup or honey
loose leaf tea or tea bags

In a pot, combine all ingredients except the honey or maple syrup, and bring to a boil and let it steep for about 4-5 minutes. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain into a mug. Add honey or maple syrup and enjoy the immune boosting benefits of this all natural tea.

Egg-cellent Fried Egg, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Herb Kale Wrap

Egg-cellent Fried Egg, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Herb Kale Wrap

Initially, this recipe wasn’t intended for a blog post (hence the low quality cell phone picture). I was just hungry and needed a good breakfast void of a lot of carbs but high in protein. I also need to use up the massive amount of kale in my fridge. And goat cheese. Oh my gosh, goat cheese. I used honey goat cheese for this recipe, but really, any type of cheese will do. Makes one serving.

What you will need:
2 eggs
butter for frying
1 large kale leaf
honey goat cheese, crumbled
fresh herbs (i used rosemary. basil, dill and thyme are a couple of good ones, just too name a few)

Warm a frying pan on medium- low heat and coat it in butter. Slowly and carefully crack the eggs directly into the pan, letting the whites pour out first. If the pan is hot enough, the whites will begin to set and keep the yolk centered. Cover the eggs with a lid and continue to cook. They are done when the whites are set and the outer edges are just starting to curl up. I didn’t time this part, but I’m guessing it takes about 4-5 minutes or so. Lay out the kale flat on a plate and carefully transfer the eggs from the pan to the piece of kale. Top with crumbled honey goat cheese (or your choice of cheese), fresh herbs and maybe some scallions, too. Enjoy!

Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease

Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease

If you follow my blog regularly, or even just caught a few posts here and there, you may have noticed that I don’t use a lot of excess salt, or a lot of prepackaged, processed food. I like to keep food as wholesome as possible. I feel there’s something to be said about a meal that’s made from scratch, with fresh, wholesome fruits and veggies. It’s made with care, love, time and patience. And, when made without a lot of excess salt and prepackaged, overly processed food, it’s more nourishing and healthy for you and your loved ones. This article taken from trueactivist.com puts up a good argument as to why you should stop, or at least greatly cut back on eating processed foods.

“A team of scientists from Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany, say junk food diets could be partly to blame… for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, including alopecia, asthma and eczema.” Read the full article here.

Vegetarian Meatball Stew

Vegetarian Meatball Stew

This is a great crock pot recipe full of veggie meatballs, mushrooms, onions, butternut squash, and kale. The rich, savory, mushroom and onion soup broth is really what makes this stew so crave-able. My secret is using Lipton Mushroom Onion Soup packets. It’s a dry soup mix that is very hearty, savory, and buttery, giving it a very French feel. It almost tricked my friend into thinking it was beef broth (even though she knows better!).

The great thing about stew is that you can throw in any vegetables you want. If you’re not a fan of butternut squash, you can always use sweet potatoes or just regular old potatoes. Swiss chard and spinach are also great greens to use if kale’s not your thing.

What you will need:
2 large portobello mushroom caps
1 small red onion (or half of a large one), diced
1 box of MorningStar Farms Veggie Meatballs
10 oz package of frozen butternut squash
2 very large pieces of kale, cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 tbs butter, plus more for sauteing
1 1/2- 2 packages of Lipton Mushroom Onion Soup Mix (depending on taste)
5 cups of water

Turn the crock pot on to high heat and add 2 tbs butter. Dice the two portobello mushrooms (including the stem) into large cubes and add them to the crock pot. Large chunks are good here. It’s a stew, so big, “meaty” pieces are a good thing. Dice the red onion and add that to the crock pot as well. Cook for about 45 mins- 1 hour, or until mushrooms reduce and are cooked through. Meanwhile, In a skillet over medium heat, add butter and veggie meatballs and cook until they are golden brown on the outside and heated through. Set them aside. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the butternut squash and broth. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Then, chop the kale into 1/4 strips and add to the crock pot. Continue to cook until kale is wilted. Add the veggie meatballs and serve with bread and butter.