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I’ll often lose track of what articles I have coming out when until someone pings me and says, “hey, I saw your article!” But this month I’m turning the tables. I’ve got 20 something holiday recipes in various pubs on grocery store shelves at the moment … and I wanted to let you all know!
Eating Well – A Simple Celebration: Savor the bounty of the Americas, from juicy turkey and wild rice to cranberries and chocolate, with this easy, delicious Thanksgiving menu. I’d wanted to write this piece celebrating foods native to the Americas for a long, long time. Eating Well bought it this year and we came up with some amazing dishes … just ask anyone who came to our “Thanksgiving in April” testing dinner! I’m making the Salt and Sage Rubbed Turkey for Thanksgiving.
Better Homes and Gardens – Holiday Recipes Special Interest Publication.I’ve got a few features in this one–Stuffing, Salads–and a whole lot of recipes scattered throughout. I’m making the Oysters Rockefeller Stuffing for our Thanksgiving; it’s crazy good, luscious and creamy and savory.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat – A Feast for the Fussy. I thought Diane Peterson did a great job on this piece, which addresses the touchy subject of how to serve a holiday meal when there are a myriad of food needs and preferences at the table. My advice? Make the most of the season’s gorgeous greens and squash and root veggies.
I consider myself a lucky girl for many reasons, one of them being that I have so many way cool colleagues in the food writing world. Like Robin Asbell. Robin has been putting the “yuummm” into veggie and whole grain based cooking for several years now, with her New Vegetarian, Big Vegan and New Whole Grains Cookbooks. Now, she’s gracing us with Sweet and Easy Vegan: Treats Made with Whole Grains and All Natural Sweeteners.
When Robin asked me to be part of her virtual potluck, I had a hard time choosing from the list of dishes. Mocha Scones with Cacao Nibs? Yum. PB&J Crisp? Sweet Potato Coconut Cupcakes? All good. I, though, decided to bring Orange and Dried Plum Bars to the party. Orange and plum has always been a favorite pairing of mine, and with a walnut streusel topping? Done.
Not only have Robin and Chronicle given me permission to share the recipe here with you, they’re also giving you the chance to win your very own copy of the book (trust me, whether you’re vegan or not, this would be a good thing).
Unlike many of my fellow potluck pals (who are more confident bakers than I am), I opted to cook the recipe exactly as is* out of the book for two reasons: one, because I tend to get into BIG trouble when I mess with any baking recipe and, two, because I was curious about the vegan ingredients. Nothing in the ingredient list was new to me, but some–palm sugar, coconut oil, soy milk, agave syrup–were, for me, novel ingredients to be baking with.
I’m not the biggest baker to begin with, but part of the reason is because I don’t feel great about having goodies that are basically processed flour and sugar in my fridge, no matter the guise. Which is why I was so excited to delve into Robin’s book. I can get behind bars that are mostly fruit, whole grains and nuts. I love that I’m adding not only to my sweet-leaning repertoire, but also to my ‘nourishing baking’ skill set.
Oh, before I forget … to enter to win a book of your own, just leave a comment below with a way to get in touch. I’ll pick a winner this Friday (October 26th). In the meantime, check out the rest of the virtual potluck dishes here.
Dried Plum Filling
1 pound pitted dried plums
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup agave syrup
3 tablespoons orange liqueur*
5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup Sucanat or granular palm sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons coconut oil, chilled
3 tablespoons soy milk
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup Sucanat or granular palm sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus more as needed
To make the plum filling: In a small saucepan, combine the dried plums, water, agave syrup, and orange liqueur. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat as much as possible, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until thoroughly combined.
Preheat the oven to 350. Oil a 9-inch square baking pan.
To make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the pastry flour, Sucanat, and salt and stir until well mixed. Grate the chilled coconut oil into the flour mixture, then toss until the bits of coconut oil are evenly coated. Mix gently with your fingers, squeezing to break up the bits and working quickly so the warmth from your hands doesn’t melt the coconut oil. Add the soy milk and stir until just combined. Press a bit of the mixture in your hand to see if it holds together; if it’s crumbly, stir in a bit more soy milk.
Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and press it in an even layer. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, prepare the streusel: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, walnuts, Sucanat, and salt and stir until well mixed. Add the coconut oil and stir until thoroughly combined. If any loose flour remains, stir in a bit more oil.
Spread the plum filling over the crust in an even layer. Scatter the streusel evenly over the top and press to flatten slightly. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the streusel is golden brown and feels firm to the touch.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut 4 by 4, to make 16 squares. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the bars will keep for about 1 week.
* Full disclosure … I did change one thing. I thought I had Cointreau, but didn’t, So I used amaretto instead.
In a rut with what to put in the lunchbox? I’m here to help! If you’re in the Healdsburg, CA area, sign up down below for my October 2nd class. Space is limited!
In this 90 minute demonstration cooking class you’ll learn four ways to pack lunches full of “grow food” that your kids will actually eat. You’ll walk away with:
- Simple recipes for “I ate it ALL!” lunches
- Suggestions for easy mix and match meals
- Resources for eco-friendly storage and portage
- 3 foods that nourish body and brain
- 5 time-saving strategies for busy school nights
- 4 ways to get your kids EXCITED about healthy foods
$29 / person
When: Tuesday October 2nd / 5:30 7:00 pm
Where: Healdsburg Montessori School
500 Grove Street, Healdsburg, CA
I love grilled potatoes. Even in the foil packet, they take on a beguiling smokiness from the grill, which stands out all the more against the sweetness of sweet potatoes. You could mince the rosemary and toss it with the potato slices, but you don’t really need to; you’ll be surprised by how much those two sprigs on the outskirts infuse the whole packet.
1 pound orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (also called yams), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs rosemary
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Lay out a 20-inch piece of heavy duty foil. Spread the sweet potatoes onto one half of the foil and place rosemary sprigs on either side. Fold the other half over the top and crimp the edges up and over to seal well. If needed, wrap another piece of foil around each to reinforce.
Place foil packets directly over heat, cover and cook for 25 minutes, flipping once with tongs and a wide spatula, and moving around grill every once in a while.
To serve, open packets and discard rosemary.
For this. Heidi Swanson’s online pop up shop. Those of you who know Heidi and her 101 Cookbooks blog know that this chica has serious style (and a compassionate wisdom that I adore … but that’s a whole other story). She’s one of those people you secretly (or not so secretly) long to browse antique shops and boutiques with so you can basically say, “I’ll have what she’s having.” Well, now we all can. Get on the mailing list today … doors open mid-month.
I’m coming back from a week in New York (my old stomping ground) with some exciting news. I won the International Association of Culinary Professionals award for Entrepreneur/Business Person of the Year!
One of the things that excites me most about winning this award is that it’s not just about business, it’s about being a voice of integrity and encouragement to others within industry, which are goals I’ve aspired to my whole career.
Authenticity is my utmost core value, and I thought about it a lot over the course of the conference. I am so grateful to be surrounded by colleagues who bring an authentic voice and vision to their work. People like Cheryl Sternman Rule, who unabashedly writes for the pleasure of writing and enriches all of our lives as a result. People like Maria Speck, who brought her passion to life in a way that inspires me to stick unswervingly to my own call.
Big kudos to all y’all, because following your dream doesn’t just happen. It takes guts and close-your-eyes-and-make-the-leap kind of faith. Grant Achatz, the famed chef from Alinea in Chicago, reminded me of that at what I thought was one of the best sessions of the conference.
Grant is celebrated for pushing the envelope, but when he talked about bringing cellists into the dining room for a certain course to bring the element of music to bear on a certain dish, I had to wonder, “does he ever worry people are going to laugh at him, or critics are going to slam him, or his customers are going to think he’s crazy?” So I asked him.
He basically said he has that “you’re going to fail” voice beside him every day in the form of one of the restaurant’s leaders. His general manager—who is now his director of operations—always tells Grant his wild ideas can’t be done or are a bad idea. Grant said it’s become a sort of joke; that the ideas his colleague deems terrible are the ones that will inevitably succeed.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. In having the devil’s advocate at his side, it forces Grant to constantly define and defend his own beliefs in an external conversation instead of internal. The gem in that tale is that not only does Grant tolerate this person; he reveres him. To me, that in and of itself is courageous.
Those are the things I’ve been thinking about … and now I want to ask you what you’re thinking. If you’re new to NOURISH Evolution, what’s standing out and making you go “a ha!” and what’s leaving you feeling flat? If you’ve been a long-time follower, what are some ways that NOURISH Evolution has impacted your life? Is there anything you’re disappointed with? I’d really like to know. In going forward, I want to continue stepping out in my own authentic voice, while at the same time giving you tools and information that are going to help empower you not just in your kitchen, but in your lives.
Thank you, all my colleagues at IACP—and all you here on NOURISH Evolution–for the way you encourage, inspire and challenge me. And thank you for this validation that following your passion and being true to what you believe in is something worth celebrating.
The more I get to know Natalie Coughlin, the more I detect a kindred spirit (although she can swim a lot better than I can). As an Olympic medalist, Natalie is training almost constantly, yet she draws strength and balance from a nourishing lifestyle that includes fresh, seasonal foods (including veggies from her own garden) and smart snacks. Read on for a behind-the-scenes talk with this celebrity swimmer.
LH—We all know you as a superstar athlete, but when and how did you get interested in cooking?
NC–My interest in cooking really grew during college. I had a busy training schedule and had a year’s worth of dorm food to realize that it was time for me to start cooking! I need wholesome, nourishing foods to keep my energy up, and I wanted to eat food that tasted good, too!
LH—Do you ever cook for your fellow athletes when you’re on the road with the team?
NC–Not really. Often times we stay in traditional hotels, without a kitchen. Although I would always prefer to cook, there are many healthy options at restaurants on the road. You just need to be smart about what you order.
LH—I hear you’re a gardener. How did you get into that and what are your favorite things to grow?
NC–I’ve always loved food, so having my own garden was a dream of mine. I find it really relaxing and plus, it’s a great way to get fresh produce and herbs. As far as my favorites go, I really love how easy it is to grow salad greens (and I probably use them the most), but I also enjoy growing kale, carrots and beets. Their flavor is incomparable when they’re straight from the garden.
LH—We at NOURISH Evolution believe that food is more than just what we eat. How does food play into your training… both in terms of feeding your body, and feeding your spirit?
NC–Food plays a huge role in my training routine—I see it as fuel for my body and rely on wholesome foods to give me the energy I need to perform my best. With that said, I really pay attention to what I’m eating and try to incorporate as many simple and seasonal foods as possible, especially lots of fruits and vegetables. I also carry nutritious snacks with me to make sure that my energy doesn’t drop while I’m training. Dried plums are one of my go-to snacks since they’re convenient, taste great and most importantly, they are a nutrient powerhouse that helps promote good heart, bone and digestive health. They also support the immune system. In terms of feeding the spirit, when you eat healthy you feel better both physically and mentally. It’s amazing when you pay attention to how you feel after a healthy meal and after a not so healthy meal. Not only do you feel better after a healthy meal, but you feel better about yourself because you’re treating your body right.
LH—Are there any special “extras” you need nutritionally as an athlete? How do you make sure you’re getting what you need?
NC–Due to drug testing, I don’t take any supplements; I focus on meeting all of my nutritional needs through the foods that I eat. I always make sure that I’m eating different fruits and vegetables, lean proteins—and plenty of whole grains—to give me all my vitamins and minerals. One easy way I do this is to include lots of superfoods like dried plums in my diet.
LH—What gets you most excited about California Dried Plums?
NC–Working with the California Dried Plum Board has really been one of the most rewarding partnerships that I’ve had over the years. I’ve been able to develop my own signature recipes that use dried plums. I’m always amazed at how they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. I have also learned a ton about their nutritional benefits! Snacking on dried plums is a good way to increase important vitamins and minerals, and also a tasty way to way to curb appetite.
LH—How did you get involved with the California Dried Plum Board?
NC–I have been snacking on dried plums since I was a kid, so it was a natural fit to become the spokesperson for the California Dried Plum Board in 2009. Dried plums are a convenient, healthy superfruit snack, ideal for active people. I’m always recommending them to my family, friends, teammates and coaches.
LH—That Lumpia with Dried Plum Purée on your website looks fantastic. What’s another favorite recipe of yours?
NC–Moist and Fudgy Brownies with Dried Plums is my go-to recipe for a great dessert. I don’t typically have a huge sweet tooth, but I love this recipe and they’re always a big hit among my friends and family. Plus, the recipe uses dried plum purée as a way to add extra nutrition and moisture, so this is a “healthier version” of the brownie. Using the purée lets you use less fat and sugar.
LH—Can you tell us about the California Dried Plum Board’s “Super Snacking” Sweepstakes?
NC–As I said, snacking is a huge part of my daily routine and the California Dried Plum Board wanted to help others supplement their own healthy snacking habits though the sweepstakes. The “Super Snacking” sweepstakes will provide one lucky person with a $1,000 grocery gift card for a nearby grocery store. To enter, visit CaliforniaDriedPlums.org.
LH—What’s YOUR favorite California dried plum snack?
NC–I love the Dried Plum Snack Bars – I even made them over the holidays for my family!
LH—How is your training going for London 2012?
NC–It’s going really well! I’m keeping busy with my workouts and training, but in reality, athletes are training all the time. We always need to make sure that we’re eating the right foods and staying in shape. Our routine just gets more intense when the Games are coming up!
LH—Any special dishes you’re looking forward to trying while in the UK?
NC–Although this is far from healthy, I’m looking forward to some traditional bangers and mash. Everyone deserves to indulge every once and a while!
Natalie Coughlin is a paid spokesperson for the California Dried Plum Board.
One of the things I love about this partnership is what a natural fit it is. To start with, dried plums are a good source of fiber, which boosts digestive health and keeps you satiated for a nice, long while. There’s also recent evidence that dried plums helps maintain bone density. And, quite frankly, they’re surprisingly delicious and versatile. So a Nourishing thumbs up on all accounts.
But there’s another thing too, and I’m aware this may sound nostalgic so bear with me … before Healdsburg was known as “wine country,” it was renowned for its dried plums. There’s heritage kismet here with NOURISH Evolution and California Dried Plums, I tell you.
Tune in over the next few weeks to get tips from Natalie on what fuels her body and feeds her spirit, and if you’ve got a great snack recipe for dried plums, by all means, enter the Super Snacking Sweepstakes here. You’ll be entered for a chance to win a $1,000 gift certificate for groceries near you … talk about a boost to your budget!
Yep, it’s that time again. The day (the week, let’s face it) when we dread over-sugared children and the unrelenting beckoning of foods we have no desire to eat, yet can’t. seem. to. help. ourselves. So I say, be proactive. Cook up some healthy Halloween snacks that you can say “yes” to without feeling like a fiend … and that won’t leave you feeling ghoulish.
- Crispy Kale Chips — It’s amazing, but even picky kids love these. A nice savory nibble to fill up on.
- Coppa-Wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese — An easy, impressive crowd-pleaser. Call them “Date Mummies” and make them for your Halloween party.
- Noe’s Remixed Party Mix — An updated, revamped take on the old classic. Awesome munchie for a kid crowd.
- Saffron-Cardamom Coconut Macaroons — Macaroons have always struck me somewhere between candy and cookie. A great treat to pull out for Halloween.
- Maple-Caramel Popcorn — Another great bet for kids, and a heck of a lot better for them than candy.
- No-Bake Peanut Butter Popcorn Treats — A more decadent take on popcorn treats. A little goes a long way with this one … so guard yourself from gobblin.