Pumpkins have become eponymous with autumn, especially when spiced, but technically they are a winter squash so we legitimately have at least another month to fairly enjoy them. Pumpkin butter is smooth and sweet, a great cold-weather alternative to berry jams that can be put on toast or swirled into oatmeal, yogurt bowls or chia pudding for an extra boost of flavour. Using chai tea along with a pumpkin spice blend gives it some extra depth of flavour. The spices traditionally used in chai tea and pumpkin pie spice are quite similar and often include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and other warming, invigorating spices. Beyond enhancing the flavour these spices also contain antioxidants and several health-boosting compounds, making them both enjoyable and functional.Medjool dates have a thick, gooey texture and they are very sweet naturally, enough so that they make the pumpkin butter very sweet without having to add in any additional sugars. They are also high in fiber and several nutrients like potassium and magnesium. When choosing sweet sources it is best to go for natural options, as unrefined as possible, so that all their nutrients are still present. In particular, the fiber can help counteract any of the negative aspects that sugar can have on the body. I also like to use a bit of male syrup because it adds a lot of flavour, especially once it is cooked and its sugars caramelize. It has been slightly modified through its extraction from maple trees but is a good option because it has several minerals and antioxidants and is still considered to be a natural, unrefined product.
1 cup (around 16) medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup chai tea
¼ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
The dates should ideally be soft and gooey, if not soak them in hot water for around 20 minutes. Simply place them (already pitted) into a bowl then pour in some hot water until it just covers them.
Drain the excess water and they will be soft enough to use.
Steep one cup of preferred chai tea according to package directions.
Mash up the dates with a fork or potato masher then mash in the pumpkin puree. Stir in the tea, syrup and spices until fully combined.
Pour into a small to medium sized pot and bring to a boil on the stove over medium high heat, while stirring regularly (the high sugar content makes it burn easily if not stirred enough). Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium low and let simmer, stirring consistently until it thickens up to a jam-like consistency, around 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until storing it in airtight containers for up to a couple weeks.
Loaves, like muffins, are a great item for meal or snack prepping because they can be quite healthy with the right ingredients and they are easy to package individually and transport. I kept this version ultra nutritious with a combination of sprouted buckwheat flour and almond flour to form a hearty and dense base. Each has a nutty flavour and together they contribute many important nutrients including protein, fiber, manganese, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin E and B vitamins. Continue Reading →
Muffins are a great item to prepare in advance. They freeze well and are very portable, perfect for a healthy, on-the-go snack or light meal. For this version I tried to keep them as nutritious as possible by starting with a base of sprouted spelt and sprouted buckwheat flours. This extra step in the processing creates a whole grain flour that is easy to digest, with more bioavailable nutrients.
From there, the muffins get some density and healthy fats from almond meal (ground almonds) and moistness from apple sauce, Greek yogurt and a bit of cultured butter. Natural sweetness comes from dates and maple syrup and vanilla and cinnamon add a bit of seasonal spice.
It’s the first day of fall, time to fill the kitchen with pumpkins and incorporate them into healthy, hearty culinary creations. Here I used some puréed pumpkin to make some nutrient-dense muffins. They are also based upon sprouted spelt flour and sprouted buckwheat flour. Spelt is an ancient grain that has been shown to be easier to digest than several newer varieties. Both spelt and buckwheat have a nutty flavour that works well for muffins and using sprouted options ensures maximum nutrient bioavailability. Continue Reading →
One of the most common ways to preserve the bounty of our summer berries is by turning them into jam. The process can be a bit intimidating because the right temperature, sugar content and pectin levels have to be spot on. Out of the nutrition world has come a simpler process that utilizes chia seeds as the thickener. Continue Reading →
Poaching fruit in some kind of other fruit juice makes for a succulent, flavourful treat. Pears have a texture that holds up well and is transformed perfectly by poaching. They become extra sweet and velvety, plus they are neutral enough to take on other flavours well. I like to use bartlett pears that are just starting to soften, they should press in slightly to touch with a bit of pressure, but any variety can be nice. Continue Reading →
Adding some grains and/or legumes like quinoa and lentils to our salads helps to make them more hearty, a timely adjustment as the seasons change and temperatures drop. Including some tomatoes, tomatillos, herbs and a creamy dressing keeps it fresh, light and flavourful. Continue Reading →
A cruciferous vegetable like cauliflower and a dense legume like chickpeas are both very healthy and hearty ingredients that come together to create a filling dish. Salads like this can be made the night before serving or can last for a couple days to provide portable lunches. Continue Reading →
Smoothies can be as light or as decadent as desired. They can be filled with a myriad of superfoods or made from a few simple ingredients. This version is more of a dessert combination, made from only four ingredients- fresh nectarines, vanilla bean, cashew ice cream and cashew milk. The nectarines give it a sweet, summery flavour while the cashew ice cream and milk give it a velvety smooth, rich texture and the vanilla increases the decadent factor. Continue Reading →
Sitting on the kitchen counter and sneaking bits of raw chocolate chip cookie dough as my mom baked them is one of my earliest and fondest childhood memories. While her classic recipe is still my favourite, I try to make more nutrient-dense variations like this from time to time. Continue Reading →