Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Superfood Feast

If you've been following me for a few weeks, you know that I like to save Fridays for special recipes. You know, a reward for making it through the week inspiration for the weekend when you actually have time to cook. And if I may say so, this Friday you are going to hit the jackpot! Today I'm sharing the menu from last night's "roommate night." I am lucky enough to live with my best friend. This fall has been pretty intense for us so we started setting aside a night each week to hang out, cook dinner, and chill.

Today I'll be sharing recipes for... Kale-Sunflower Pesto with Spaghetti Squash and Apple Crisp.

Conception of this week's dinner started last week, when I was doing a little light reading on the omega-3 fatty acids in nuts. Most of us have heard that walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids, but did you know that sunflower seeds are just as potent a source? That in combination with the fact that sunflower seeds cost $1.99/ lb,* compared to the $6.99/ lb for walnuts inspired me to create a recipe where sunflower seeds took the center stage. Sunflower seeds are also rich in iron, selenium, and vitamin E which are good for healing and reducing inflammation, respectively.
(*For those who don't know, postdoctoral associates make about as much as a first year public school teacher. Couple that with my fiance's ever-growing medical school loans and that will explain why many of my recipes are fairly cost effective.)

The next ingredient was inspired by National Kale Day, which was 10/2. I'm a little late for the celebration, but it's never too late to serve up a recipe with this superfood. Kale is rich in fiber, calcium, and potassium, as well as vitamins A, C and K. Additionally, kale is a cruciferous vegetable, which means it will deliver potent anti-cancer agents.

Up next... spaghetti squash. It's just as delicious as it sounds. Many of my recipes rely heavily on grains: I personally feel like I need their caloric density because I ride my bike a lot. I make an exception for this squash though. Spaghetti squash has about 1/5 of the calories of the same amount of whole grain pasta and has more fiber and vitamin C. The taste is amazing! I look forward to this squash every fall. (Although this fall it is quite expensive, hopefully the cost will come down as the season progresses.)

The final fall favorite included in today's recipes are freshly picked apples. Apple season is well underway in New England and even though I haven't made it to an orchard yet, my brother and his girlfriend did me a favor and shared some of their recent bounty with me. I've healthied up my family's recipe by using Earth Balance buttery spread in place of butter. Earth Balance is made from vegetable oils and delivers a lot of omega-3 fatty acids instead of the saturated fat in butter. With this apple crisp, I'm sure that an apple a day will keep the doctor away!

Kale-Sunflower Pesto

5c fresh kale
1c sunflower seeds (I used roasted, salted seeds)
3T olive oil
1/2c nutritional yeast
1/4c balsamic vinegar
garlic, black pepper, ginger, and salt to taste
water to thin as necessary

Combine kale, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast in food processor. Add spices, olive oil, and balsamic. Continue to process until a pesto texture is achieved. Add water or additional olive oil to thin as necessary (I like to limit the amount of oil, since there's already plenty omega-3 fatty acids in the sunflower seeds which is why I use the water.)

Spaghetti Squash

This is even easier to cook than pasta. Simply poke some holes in the spaghetti squash with a fork and microwave on high for 8-10 minutes, rotating occasionally, until soft. Then cut in half and scoop out the "spaghetti" removing the seeds.
Please don't worry about the safety of microwaves. The radiation your food will experience is less than it would receive if you listened to the radio while you were eating dinner or if you received a cell phone call. Additionally, all the microwaves (ie the radiation waves) are doing is exciting the water molecules in the food, which cause them to heat up. They are gone by the time you eat your food.

Apple Crisp

8-10 fresh apples
1c rolled oat flour (created by food processing rolled oats)
1t cornstarch
1c quick cook oats
1c brown sugar
1/4c Earth Balance buttery spread, melted (or canola oil)
cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (or pumpkin pie spice) to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Cut apples into 1/2" chunks, leaving the skin on. (I used to skin the apples, but the first year I moved to Boston, I didn't own a peeler so we tried this recipe with the skins on. We liked it so much that we've never gone back!)
3. In a medium bowl, combine oat flour, oats, and brown sugar.
4. Melt the Earth Balance and add it to the flour mixture about 1T at a time. Add just enough to "wet" the dry ingredients. If you don't have earth balance, you can use canola oil but your crisp won't be quite as crispy. (It's still good though! We do it that way often.)
5. Spread the apples in a 9 by 13 baking pan.
6. Cover apples with the "crisp" mixture.
7. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until apples are soft and the crisp is crispy. Enjoy!


  1. Looks really tasty! I made spaghetti squash the first time a couple days ago -- what an amazing food!!

  2. Thanks! I love spaghetti squash... it's the one low carb food that I don't distrust :)