You know what my husband did this week? He broke down and called an air conditioning company to install air in our house. I know! It’s October and it’s supposed to be 90 something at the beach this weekend. He just couldn’t take it anymore. Crazy times, people. Let’s hope it’s up and running before my cooking class this morning since soup is on the menu. Ok, no more about the weather!
Here are a few things we’ve been talking about this week:
Pumpkin Puree in Tetra-Paks
It is that time of year again, friends! Have you noticed a certain squash flooding your social media feeds? It’s pumpkin season! I have to say, I really don’t mind as I think pumpkin is absolutely delicious, especially paired with the traditional spices. I wanted to share with you my favorite source for already cooked pumpkin puree. Don’t get me wrong, nothing really beats puree from homemade pumpkin, but that is not something I always have the time to do and I love having pumpkin puree on hand at all times for baking, and not just in the fall. And of course, in attempt to eliminate all aluminum cans from my pantry, I have been buying these tetra-paks of organic pumpkin.
This year, I have ordered from Thrive Market. I have also seen these at Whole Foods, World Market, and they have them on Amazon, but the price on Thrive really can’t be beat. You get 2 16 oz cartons (which are approximately the same size as cans) for $4.25, which is great. And if you use a lot of pumpkin during the holiday like I do, you will definitely want to stock up. Apparently, there were rumors of a pumpkin shortage this season. After a little digging, it seems like the original source of the declaration has stated he was misquoted. Even Libby’s has come out and said there should be plenty of pumpkin to go around, at east through Thanksgiving.
“Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison
There are so many amazing cookbooks out there and I for one am a cookbook junkie. There’s even a stack of them next to my bed! When a really good one comes my way, I like to share it. I have owned “Vegetable Literacy” by Deborah Madison for at least a year. She is also the author of one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.” So when this one came out, I knew it would be a winner.
Most people are starting to realize that we need to incorporate more vegetables into our diets. It’s the most nutrient-dense food group, but one that a lot of people struggle with. How to make vegetables taste good, how to prepare them a little differently, how to use ones that are a little outside the comfort zone, are requests I hear very often. This book is an education in vegetables with about 300 well-thought out modern, vegetarian vegetable recipes. The book is well-written and would appeal to a beginner, as well as a more seasoned cook.
Some wonderful recipes are Cauliflower Salad with Goat Havarti, Caraway and Mustard-Caper Vinaigrette, Farro and White Bean Soup with Savoy Cabbage, Smoky Kale and Potato Cakes, Roasted Delicata Squash with Dukkah and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce. I think this would make for a nice gift, as well. The book is available on Amazon with free prime shipping!
Plastic Sleeves for Recipes
So this might not be the most ground-breaking product on the market, and I am sure it’s something we have all bought before, but I wanted to share these with you before you do some serious cooking. I use plastic sleeves religiously to protect my recipes, both when I teach and when I cook for dinner parties and holidays. These sheet protectors keep my recipes neat, clean and organized, and I have been using these sleeves for years. I like these particular ones because they are the perfect durability- not too thin and flimsy but also not too bulky if you want to organize your recipes in a binder. I think they are a great price on Amazon so if you do get a little crazy in the kitchen with these you can easily toss them out for a fresh one. If you ever check out my Thanksgiving posts I mention how I keep a binder full of recipes and notes for each year that goes by, and I am able to throw all of these things into plastic sleeves and into a binder at the end of the season each year. They are available here on Amazon with free prime shipping!
Superfood Spotlight: Porcini Mushrooms
Some foods are easy to categorize as being high in certain nutrients, vitamins or minerals. Foods like bananas, spinach and carrots don’t really vary that much in their nutrition from different varieties. However, vegetables like mushrooms, which come in a wide variety of different types, can actually vary greatly in their nutrient content. Generally speaking, mushrooms are really good for you. They have been used as a healing food in other cultures for decades and are even available as supplements in powdered form. But recent studies have shown one type of mushroom, the porcini mushroom, to be above all of the rest in terms of antioxidant content. They have the highest of any variety of mushroom and they also contain plenty of fiber, iron, and potassium. Porcini mushrooms also contain a lot of the B Vitamins which are important for vegans and vegetarians . They are very rich in taste and have a meaty, woodsy flavor. Porcini mushrooms are only available in the U.S. in dried form, which actually concentrates the flavor so you can use less than you would fresh. They are great in soups, stews, and stir-fries.
Seasonal Produce: Broccoli
While this might not be the most exciting vegetable there ever was, broccoli is such an important, nutritious and versatile vegetable and it is in season during this time of year. Of course you are thinking “Wait, I always see broccoli at the market!” The thing about vegetables is that they all do have a season, even if they are available all year. And during their “peak season” is when they are available locally and therefore most nutritious, fresh, and delicious. Last month I taught a roasted broccoli and lemon salad with pine nuts and feta that was quite the show stopper and was ridiculously simple to throw together. In the past I have made a delicious broccoli puree for the holidays, and am using chopped up steamed broccoli in a garden veggie patty that I am teaching this month.
I am always talking up the cruciferous family of vegetables which includes broccoli, as well as its cousins cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy and cauliflower. These veggies are where it’s at in terms of nutrition. There has been a lot of information coming out lately and studies being done that are really showing this vegetable to be out of the world nutritious. For starters, it has a uniquely high concentration of Vitamin A and K, which when consumed at the same time in these high amounts actually allows for better Vitamin D absorption. This is key for all of you on Vitamin D supplements; eating broccoli 2-3 times a week is greatly enhancing your absorption of this Vitamin that so many are deficient in. Furthermore, the phytonutrients in broccoli have the ability to combat toxins in the body and decrease inflammation, which both will in turn reduce risk for cancers. I could go on and on about this super veg, but I encourage you to do some googling of your own to see just what a powerhouse this very common vegetable really is! I have included some broccoli recipes from my site, as well as a few others from the web that I thought looked great!
Spiced Sweet Potato and Broccoli Toasts from Bon Apetit
Curried Broccoli Couscous from Real Simple
Crispy Broccoli with Lemon and Garlic from Smitten Kitchen
Broccoli Pesto from Green Kitchen Stories