Vegetables for dessert? Sure, why not.

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Happy 2018! I hope your new year got off to a good start – mine certainly did, absolutely no complaints over here!

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I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of using a squash other than pumpkin in a dessert.

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Don’t be deceived by the cute little dumpling squash hanging out in these pictures – what really went in here is kabocha, one of these guys:

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I like the kabocha here – if you’ve never encountered one, they’re a bit of a cross between pumpkin and butternut squash. I really like it for the earthiness it brings here, which plays nicely against the apples. Side note: after some thought, we gave it mixed reviews – it feels a little vegetabley to be dessert – I almost wonder if it would work as a side dish. That being said, if you like not too sweet things / vegetables, go for it!

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Besides, this is my absolute favorite crisp topping – it has a little extra protein from greek yogurt and almond flour, and is just so fun to eat. It stays crispy even after hanging out in the fridge overnight, which makes this excellent breakfast (see exhibit A).

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I also love it for dessert with ice cream (obviously) – the crisp ends up covered in melty ice cream, making it into slightly indulgent granola/muesli.

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In other news, I’ve been museuming and drawing again, which feels great. I let it lag a little too long I think!

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Of course coffee.

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Here’s hoping you’re enjoying the beginning of the new year! I have good feelings for this one. If you’re in the mood for a lightly sweet, perfectly healthy desserty-breakfast, I’ve got you covered! Happy baking :)

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Kabocha Squash and Apple Walnut Crisp

Gluten free, refined sugar free, and whole grain. Full of healthy fats AND fruits & veggies! Feel free to eat this as breakfast, I certainly did. Side note: we gave it mixed reviews – it feels a little vegetabley to be dessert – I almost wonder if it would work as a side dish. That being said, if you like not too sweet things / vegetables, go for it! Adapted from the Raz-Apple crisp I made around Thanksgiving, here. Yield: 1 2-quart baking dish (it’s about 8 by 8 and deep). Serves: 2 for dessert & then breakfast! Or… you know, a normal amount of people.

For the filling:

2-3 largish Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced into thin wedges*
1 small kabocha squash, peeled & cubed*
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 c port**
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons arrowroot starch
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice

*I just approximate as I slice; I use however many it takes to fill my 2 quart, 8×8 baking dish; for ease of cutting kabocha squash, I recommend slicing it in half, then in wedges and using a knife to carefully peel it. The peel is totally edible, but I didn’t want its texture in the crisp. You’ll still get an arm workout peeling these babies, believe me!

**the port is optional but amazing; if you don’t use it, use 1/4c water instead

For the crisp:

1 cup old-fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats for a gluten-free crisp)
½ cup firmly packed almond flour
½ cup chopped walnuts
1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp maple sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a veggie steamer (I use a metal steamer inside a pot), steam the kabocha squash for 10-15 minutes, until just barely fork tender.

Slice apples into a deep baking dish, and add steamed kabocha squash (my dish is 8×8, 2 qt capacity; 9″ square or 9″ deep pie dish would also be fine). In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the maple and water/port until combined. Add the lemon juice, arrowroot, cinnamon and allspice, and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the squash and apples and toss to combine. Bake for 15 minutes.

While the filling is baking, make the crisp. In a mixing bowl, stir together the oats, almond meal, walnuts, shredded coconut, maple sugar and salt. Mix in the vanilla, melted butter and the yogurt. Stir until everything is mixed thoroughly.

Once the filling has baked for 15 minutes, stir to redistribute it evenly in the dish. Plop spoonfuls of the crisp topping evenly over the filling – no need to pack it down. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 more minutes, until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden.

Let the crisp rest at least 5 to 10 minutes before serving; or do like I did and make it earlier in the day, and have it later. Serve with vanilla ice cream, obviously! Keep leftovers, covered, in the fridge for about three days (yeah right. It would take some kind of major feat to make it last that long; ours was gone in just over 1!) Serve cold alongside breakfast because it’s extra awesome that way.

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Food fights and turkalurk

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Happy Belated TurkaLurk Day! Gobble gobble gobble…

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We did the usual Thanksgiving things but also did some really awesome things like 18 holes of frisbee golf and extreme ping pong and pie. Obvs. So weird. Pumpkin pie isn’t even my thing and I still can’t help but get all fancy. Whatever. It must be that extra baking gene I picked up somewhere in my travels to this particular incarnation.

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Oh hi, we love whipped cream.

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And then in attempting to use my parent’s favorite kitchen gadget (the Austrian whipped cream whipper they’ve had foreverrrr) at altitude, we laughed till our abs ached as the silly thing tried to explode and decant its contents violently all over the kitchen. No such luck, rouge whipper, we have your number and in no way are you going to be allowed to explode, no matter how much copious fizzing and spurting and hilariously juvenile noises end up emerging from your innards. In the end, a second batch of cream got whipped by hand but not before a mini food fight broke out. No big deal.

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Also lentils. IMG_6986

I made this dish forever ago but never got around to sharing it, so I’ll do that now… which is rather fitting considering it’s made of lentils and despite the plethora of turkey currently sweeping the nation, I prefer lentils, thank you. So here you go, my non-turkalurk-eating-crowd, this is for you. And for me, come to think of it…

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Happy Thanksgiving! I’m grateful for lots of things, up to and obvs including food. Gobble gobble…

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Roasted Kabocha Squash Lentil Dal

Gluten free and vegan! Rather quick, if you preroast the squash and all that. I adapted the recipe from happy hearted kitchen, here! Hearty and perfect for winter comfort food without the heavy ick factor… Just a warming bowl of spicy lentils to keep you dancing and happy.

  • 1 small kabocha squash
  • glug of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 heaping tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • scant 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2-1 tsp sea salt, to taste
  • a few twists of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 c red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1.5 c light coconut milk
  • 4 c veggie stock
  • chopped cashews, Persian cucumbers and shredded coconut to garnish

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For the squash: wrestle the squash and successfully cut it in halvsies. Preheat the oven to 400. Scoop out the squash seeds, and brush the insides of the squash with avocado oil (or another high heat oil would be fine here). Roast, cut side down, on a rimmed cookie sheet until the sides of the squash can be pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Remove squash from oven, flip over, and let cool until you can comfortably scoop out the puree.

In a large pot over medium, heat olive oil. Add diced onion and garlic, fresh ginger and turmeric, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add a splash of water if needed if things get too dry or the spices are sticking. Toss in cumin, ground ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, a twist of pepper, and some sea salt, and stir to combine. Add rinsed and drained lentils and diced bell pepper, followed by the coconut milk and enough broth to cover the top of the lentils, and stir again. Bring to a boil (I covered mine and watched it like a hawk), then reduce heat to low and let it simmer covered for about 35-40 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the squash puree. I purposefully left some chunks in mine for texture… You can blend it with an immersion blender here if you like, but I chose to leave mine as is—red lentils are so soft anyway that they’re pretty much perfect here. Season to taste with the rest of the salt and more pepper, if you’re spicy like me. Garnish with persian cucumbers, chopped cashews, and shredded coconut for fun!

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. If it’s thickened up quite a bit when you go for leftovers, add a splash of broth and heat it back up on the stove (or leave it thick—I love it like that the next day).

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Squash Wrestling Champ

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You don’t even want to know my struggles yesterday involving a kabocha squash.

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Well…

Maybe you do. They’re kind of funny.

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Let me just preface this with a simple suggestion. Don’t ever ever ever go to jazzercise on circuit day and then expect to be able to wrestle open a kabocha squash for roasting purposes an hour later. Just don’t. It will end badly, with the knife stuck in the squash and your arms aching. Also that weird spot where your arm meets your body?? You know, not your armpit but in front of it?? Yeah. That is impossibly sore too, which means picking up squashes and putting them in the oven (as well as taking the heavy bottom of the food processor down from the ridiculous high place that it’s stored in), not to mention cutting them open, rather difficult. I FINALLY got that squash cut in half (a little unevenly but don’t you judge me) after quite the struggle. We’re talking two hands on the knife, full body weight bearing down on the stupid thing trying to make things happen. Safely, naturally. Those squash don’t give up easily, let me tell you…

I think I might actually be sore-er today due to squash wrestling yesterday. For reals.

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Also I made so many things yesterday!! Day off + too much studying+ in between forcing myself to study + fall + pumpkin = bopping around in the kitchen all day! Which I love. Hello, kale chips out of the dehydrator, roasted and curried kabocha squash soup, and gluten free, vegan, date sweetened pumpkin cookies!!

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Aside from all that, I have some other pretty pictures of stuff [food. obvs]:

Darling skillet brownie for two! Paleo, gluten free, vegan. From this:

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To this!! Oops.

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And cranberries! Hi Fall, I love you. IMG_1336

This soup is delicious. And I love kabocha squash (minus the difficulties of getting them open) for their bright orange color and sweet flavor. I actually like them better than butternut—there’s something about the flavor of the kabochas that is richer, or more caramelized? Anyway. They’re easy to roast—toss them in the oven (halved) on a lightly greased baking sheet for about 45 minutes, until they can be pierced with a  fork easily. Take them out, flip them over and let them cool off… then scoop all that pureed goodness out and toss it in some soup. Or something. Like this:

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Roasted and Curried Kabocha Squash Soup

Yield: a vat. I used this recipe from My Darling Vegan, but obviously used a roasted kabocha squash instead of pumpkin. I reduced the garlic to 1 clove but went heavy handed on the cumin and curry powder, and I blended in all of the cashew creme instead of saving some for topping. Delicious all around, I wouldn’t change a thing!

And then obviously you need some beta carotene to go with your beta carotene… and some cookies to follow up that soup sooooo…..

THESE happened. Obviously.

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Date Sweetened Pumpkin Cookies

Vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free! These cookies are soft, but not cakey. They’re oaty, pumpkiny and spicy—everything you want in a fall cookie. I made 3/4 of the recipe (don’t even ask) for a yield of 22. Recipe adapted from Tasty Yummies, here! They do tend to soften as they sit, so I like to store mine in the fridge in an airtight container.

  • 1 c pitted dates, soaked in near-boiling water for at least 10 minutes
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed+ 3 tbsp water)
  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 c avocado oil
  • scant 1 c pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

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Preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.

In a food processor, make date paste out of your soaking dates. Chuck em all in there with a little bit of water and whizz whizz whizz until it’s mostly smooth. This isn’t an exact science and I love chunks of dates in my cookies so I don’t go crazy trying to get it to smooth out. Set aside. Make your flax egg by combining flax and water in a small bowl, and set that aside as well.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a slightly smaller bowl, whisk together oil, pumpkin, vanilla and gelled flax egg. Stir wet into dry, add in oats and chocolate chips, and stir until combined. Drop by large tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet, flattening them slightly and rounding the edges if you like perfect looking cookies (I usually opt for the rustic variety). Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned and slightly firm. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet for at least 3-4 minutes before moving them (they’re soft, be careful!). Let cool completely on a cooling rack and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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