Living the WELL Life

Aaaaaaah Autumn!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The long dog days of summer are behind us.  The hot, humid sticky days that are the signature of the season have given way to cool breezes, golden afternoons, the burnished colors of leaves and some of the most incredible food of the year.

            The harvest is in; the bins at the markets overflowing with the abundance of the fields.  Crisp apples, sweet pears, luscious squash, hearty greens and yummy roots are the gifts of the season designed by the brilliant Mother Nature to keep us strong and warm as the cool breezes change to cold winds.

            As the weather changes, so does our cooking, hearty soups and stews, sensually roasted vegetables, warming bean dishes with a crisp fresh salad to lighten the energy…and don’t forget apple pies, pear turnovers, pumpkin pies and spice cakes…yippee, it’s fall!


Roasted Pumpkin and Carrot Soup

Winter Quinoa Salad

Shaved Fennel and Artichoke Salad

Baked Onion Slices

Tofu and Apple Curry with Golden Raisins

Spice Cakes with Poached Pears

Roasted Pumpkin and Carrot Soup

This soup creates a serene strength and a calm disposition.  By normalizing our blood sugars, this soup keeps our emotions on an even keel, keeping opera-like drama out of our lives and on the stage.

2 small sugar pumpkin, seeded

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

1 small yellow onion, diced

3-4 carrots, diced

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon mirin or white wine

2 cups spring or filtered water

1 cup plain soymilk

2 teaspoons sweet white miso

2-3 tablespoons pan toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375o.  Generously rub the outside skin of the sugar pumpkin with oil and place, cut side down in a shallow baking pan.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and add water to the baking dish to accumulate about 1/8-inch.  Cover loosely with foil and bake until the squash is tender, about 40 minutes (time may vary depending on the size of the pumpkin).  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Place about 2 tablespoons oil and onion in a small soup pot and turn heat to medium-high.  When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and saute for 2 minutes.  Stir in carrots, a pinch of salt, lemon zest and mirin.  Saute for 1-2 minutes. 

Scoop the flesh of the pumpkin out of the skins and add to the vegetables in the soup pot. Add water, soymilk, cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook soup until the carrots are quite soft, about 25 minutes.  Transfer the soup, by ladles to a chinois or food mill and puree until smooth.  Add a small amount of soymilk to thin the soup as desired.  Return soup to the pot and place over very low heat.  Remove a small amount of broth and dissolve miso.  Stir miso into soup and simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes.  Serve garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds.  Makes 3-4 servings.

Winter Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is a great light whole grain and, as a result, many of us associate it only with summer.  But during cold weather, there is nothing like the light energy of this grain.  And in this recipe, combined with richly roasted winter vegetables, you turn this delicious grain into the ultimate comfort food.

2 red onion, diced

2-3 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 cup diced daikon

1 cup diced butternut squash

extra virgin olive oil

brown rice syrup

sea salt

zest of 1 lemon


2 cups spring or filtered water

1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well


juice of 1 lemon

2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Preheat oven to 400o.

Place vegetables in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle generously with oil and rice syrup, sprinkle with salt and lemon zest.  Mix well to coat the vegetables.  Arrange the vegetables in a shallow baking dish and cover tightly.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Remove cover and return to the oven to brown the vegetables for another 15 minutes.  

While the vegetables roast, place the water and quinoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil, over medium heat, loosely covered.  Add a pinch of salt, cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook until all liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa opens, about 25 minutes.             

When the vegetables are ready, simply toss them together with the cooked quinoa and gently stir in the lemon juice and parsley.  Makes 4-5 servings. 

Shaved Fennel and Artichoke Heart Salad

Aromatic and light, yet rich and strongly flavored, this salad is at its best in the spring and autumn...the two seasons that yield the most delicious fennel and artichokes.  The flavors of the vegetables are so distinctive, that just a touch of oil and lemon juice will perfect the dish.

extra virgin olive oil

2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced

1 red onion, thin half moon slices

sea salt

6-8 artichoke hearts, split lengthwise

1 small fennel bulb, tops trimmed, 2-3 tablespoons leaves reserved, very thinly shaved or sliced

juice of 1 fresh lemon

Place a small amount of oil, garlic and red onion in a deep skillet and turn heat to medium.  When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and saute until quite limp, 3-4 minutes.  Add artichoke hearts, sprinkle lightly with salt, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the artichoke hearts are tender, 17-20 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in fennel and lemon juice and adjust seasoning.  Spoon onto a serving platter and sprinkle reserved fennel leaved on top, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  Serve warm.  Makes 4-5 servings. 

Note: To prepare an artichoke heart, cut the stem of the artichoke off at the base.  Remove the outer leaves of the artichoke by pulling them down so they snap off.  Using a sharp knife, cut the artichoke crosswise, removing the remaining leaves, leaving about a 1 2-inch base.  With a small paring knife, trim the green leaf stubs off the bottom of the base.  Then trim the dark green leaf stubs from the top of the base.  Using a melon baller, remove the hairy choke from the base of the artichoke.  Place the prepared artichoke heart in a bowl of cold water that has had the juice of one lemon mixed in.

Baked Onion Slices

Rich, sweet and packed with nutrition, especially hard-to-get essential fatty acids, this dish not only takes its place as one of the great side dishes for any dinner or buffet table, but you get the additional pleasure of feeding your loved ones the best food in its yummiest form.

2 large red onions, peeled, sliced into 2-inch thick rings

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt



4-5 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 cup shelled hempseeds

Preheat oven to 350o.

Arrange onion slices on a shallow baking sheet, avoiding overlap.  Sprinkle generously with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and mirin.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove cover and return to oven until onions are beginning to brown, 7-10 minutes more.

While the onions bake, make the topping.  Combine parsley with lemon zest and mix very well.  In a dry skillet, over low heat, lightly pan toast the hempseeds.  Mix them very well with the parsley and lemon zest.  Season lightly with salt and mix well.

When the onions are ready, remove from oven and transfer to a serving platter.  Mound the topping on each onion slice and serve.  Makes 4-8 servings.

Tofu and Apple Curry with Golden Raisins

This hot, sweet tofu dish will win you raves.  The spicy nature of curry is nicely offset by the delicate sweetness of the apples and raisins.  One bite of this main course and no one will turn their noses up at tofu again.

4 tablespoons light olive oil

½ cup brown rice syrup

8 ounces extra firm tofu, ¼-inch thick slices

extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red curry paste

2-3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

½ red onion, finely diced

sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup golden raisins

2 Granny Smith apples, halved, cored, ½-inch dice, do not peel

½  cup dry white wine

2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced

Place oil and rice syrup in a skillet and turn heat to medium.  When the mixture begins to foam, lay tofu slices in the skillet and cook until golden, turning once to insure browning.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

            Place a small amount of oil and curry paste in a deep skillet and turn heat to medium.  Cook, while stirring, until curry is creamy.  Stir in garlic, onions, salt, cumin and cinnamon and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in golden raisins, apples, wine and a light seasoning of salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has been absorbed and the apples are just tender, 5-7 minutes. 

            To serve, mound cooked basmati rice on a platter, spoon apple mixture over it and lay glazed tofu slices on top.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.  Makes 4-6 servings. 

Spice Cakes with Poached Pears


There's something about spice cakes and crisp pears that’s so comforting and yummy.  The earthy flavors of spice lift the delicate sweetness of the pears to intoxicating heights.  A great autumn dessert to grace any table.

poached pears

1 bottle sparkling wine or asti spumonte

2 cup brown rice syrup

1, 2-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

2-3 cinnamon sticks

grated zest of 1 lemon

pinch sea salt

4 medium-sized pears, peeled, halved, cored

Spice cakes

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

generous pinch sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 cup avocado or light olive oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/2-1 cup Eden Rice & Soy Blend or vanilla soymilk

Caramel sauce

1 cup Eden Rice & Soy Blend or vanilla soymilk

2 cup brown rice syrup

pinch sea salt

juice of 1/4 fresh lemon

To poach the pears, place wine, rice syrup, ginger slices, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Add pear halves, reduce heat to low and simmer until the pears are just tender, 10-15 minutes.  Drain liquid off and set pears aside to cool.  Slice each pear half, lengthwise, into thin wedges, not all the way to the top, creating a fan.

Preheat oven to 350o and lightly oil 8, 1 1/4-cup custard cups or ramikens.  Place a pear half in each oiled cup and press delicately to fan the slices. 

Prepare the cake by whisking together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Stir in oil, vanilla and rice syrup.  Slowly add Eden Blend, mixing to create a smooth, spoonable batter.  Spoon batter into prepared cups, filling each one to just over halfway.  Place cups on a baking sheet and bake until a toothpick inserted into each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before inverting cakes onto dessert plates.  Any pear pieces that stick to the dish can be carefully removed and replaced on the cake tops.

Make caramel sauce by combining Eden Blend, rice syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.  When the mixture boils, reduce heat to low and cook until it reduces by half.  Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice.  Spoon over each cake and serve hot.  Makes 8 servings.


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