Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Fun with Food

Even though San Diego doesn't experience the same Fall as other areas of the country, we can still enjoy the flavors that are quintessentially Fall: pumpkin, sweet potato, nutmeg and more. I've been experimenting with some Fall flavors lately and thought I'd share :)

Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is super easy to make and so delicious. It's perfect at any time of the year but especially nice for cool days. With only 4 ingredients, there's no reason why you shouldn't make this soup whenever possible!

1-2 cups vegetable broth
1 medium baked sweet potato with skin, cut into pieces
1 medium carrot, cut into pieces
Spices of your choice (I used Northwoods seasoning mix from Penzey's Spices, which is a mix of paprika, rosemary, thyme, garlic, chipotle, salt and pepper)

In a high-speed blender, add 1 cup of the vegetable broth. Add your cooked sweet potato with the skin still on. The skin contains many nutrients and fiber and is just as important as the flesh inside! Add your carrot and spices. I don't always measure my spices out, but I would add no more than 1 tablespoon of all spices you use combined. Turn the blender on and move to high speed quickly, adding more broth as necessary to blend the ingredients. The soup is quite thick at first so you may need more broth depending on how thick you like your soup.

Another option is to bring all your broth to a boil. Add raw sweet potato and carrot and boil until both are soft (about 15 minutes). Using an immersion blender, you can blend the soup in the pot. Add your spices about halfway through the blending. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can take your cooked soup and add it to a regular blender in batches and blend until it's at your desired thickness.


Pumpkin Hummus

I'm pretty crazy for some hummus. And pumpkin. So pumpkin and hummus together? Let's go. This is really easy to make and will make a wonderful addition to your holiday gatherings or just your snack repertoire!

2 cups cooked chickpeas (either canned or cooked from soaked and dried beans)
2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh is fine, though be sure it's not canned pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, minced (more if you like your hummus garlic-y) 

Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender or food processor. Process the hummus until it's at the consistency you like, adding more lemon juice and olive oil if necessary. Serve with crackers, pita wedges and veggies. YUM!

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Again, I'm crazy for some pumpkin. Not only because it tastes good but it's really good for you. To learn all about the wonders of pumpkins, check out my article singing the praises of the pumpkin. Now, onto this recipe. I need to include the disclaimer that these muffins aren't the most healthy they can be. I was in a hurry to make them (my kids were running wild and I needed breakfast fast!). To make this healthier, you can substitute the vegetable oil for 6 tbs flax meal and omit the agave nectar/maple syrup added at the end.

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup cane sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice mix (a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger)
1 cup pureed pumpkin (canned or fresh is fine, though be sure it's not canned pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a mini-muffin pan or a 12-muffin pan. I made one pan of mini muffins (24 muffins) and 6 regular sized muffins.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, almond milk, oil and agave nectar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until everything is incorporated. Add the cranberries.

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

My kids ate the entire pan of mini-muffins within a few hours. I had to hide the larger muffins in order to save them for my husband! Guess they were a hit! 

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