Hello, Pumpkin

October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Bar

Don’t you just love pumpkin? I think pumpkin pie is my favourite pie. And don’t you find at this time of year, if you’ve made Thanksgiving pie or cheesecake (I noticed pumpkin cheesecake was particularly popular this year) that you have a small quantity of leftover pumpkin puree? I bet a lot of you have some pumpkin puree kicking around in a frozen state. I did, and that’s what inspired me to make these bars.

Makes about 12 – 4″ x 1″ bars

36 dried dates

1/2 cup whole almonds

1/4 cup pecans

1/2 cup pure unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, chopped

Soak the dates in enough boiling water to cover, set aside. In the bowl of a food processor measure in almonds and pecans and pulse briefly a few times to crunch them up. Drain dates, discard water, and add to the nuts along with pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and sea salt. Run processor off and on until mixture begins to clump. Add the sunflower seeds and pulse once or twice to combine, they add nice texture if you don’t obliterate them into the mixture. Turn into a plastic-lined rectangular tart pan or container and pat neatly down. Sprinkle the chopped pumpkins seeds evenly on top, over wrap with plastic wrap and press seeds gently into the bar. Place in fridge for a few hours to firm up and then portion into bars, wrap individually and store in fridge. They make a fineĀ fall four o’ clock.

Choco Shake

October 21, 2010

Choco Froth

I am thrilled about this shake. I concocted it the other day when I was hungry and yearning for chocolate ice cream. The trick is to use a frozen banana, it makes it cold, of course, and gives it a rich thickness. It reminds me of when I was a kid and for a chocolate-y treat I would scoop out a soup bowl of ice cream and dump lumpy spoonfuls of cocoa over top. Then, in front of an episode or two of Scooby Doo, I would mash together the melty ice cream with cocoa. The end treat was a cross between a mall malted and chocolate ice cream. Little did I know then that cocoa was rich in antioxidants and minerals. I probably wouldn’t have cared but I do now.

Makes 1 yummy glassful

1 date, soaked briefly to soften in boiling water

1 frozen banana

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 heaping tablespoon good quality cocoa powder

2 tablespoons protein powder, I like this one in vanilla almond

The method is elementary: drain the water from the date and discard and put everything into a blender. Blend for two minutes, pour into a tall glass and try not to guzzle. Or stick a straw in for a soda fountain effect.

In Between Days

September 16, 2010

Peeled Peaches

My neighbourhood seemed still yesterday, and neither warm nor cold. In between days. Summer is quietly taking its leave and making room for fall. There are peaches still, at the market. Slightly over-ripe and marred with the odd bruise or dent which makes them perfect candidates for a small batch of peach barbecue sauce.

Makes about 1 cup

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/4 small onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes, optional

2 – 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, to taste

2 – 3 tablespoons honey, to taste

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

pinch of sea salt

2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks

Heat olive oil in a medium sized and heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook for a few minutes, letting them sweat but not colour. Add garlic and chili, if using, and stir to prevent scorching. Turn in all the remaining ingredients and lower heat. Use the lesser amount of both vinegar and honey – you can taste later to see if you want your peach barbecue sauce more tart or sweet. Simmer for about 20 minutes, use a fork to press down juicy ripe peaches into smaller pieces. Puree if you like or leave it a bit chunky. Think of all the food you can baste with your sticky, peachy sauce: veggies, pork, chicken, salmon, prawns. A brush with the end of summer.

Peach BBQ

A Week or Two

June 3, 2010

Strawberry Blossom

This rain seems endless, though it looks as though today might be beautiful. We are a week or two away from the blissful arrival of berry season. This rain is good, it’s drenching everything with droplets of emerald. I ran through Stanley Park – was it yesterday morning? – with the Parkside Runners. It was raining and misting and puddle-riddled. It was also lush and fresh and so, so green! And while we were running I thought of the pots of strawberry blossoms that I saw at the market last weekend. It won’t be long now, and that’s kind of thrilling.