Fall is (hopefully) beckoning, but we’re not quite ready to get out our big heavy braising pots. The last of the heirloom tomatoes and fresh corn sit side-by-side with figs and apples at the farm market, along with the first pickings of winter squash (kobocha, delicatas, butternuts).
Winter squashes and many of the star root vegetables (carrots, beets and parsnips) are EXCELLENT for cognitive functioning, focus, and learning (just in time for back-to-school!). Fall Immune boosters include winter squashes (antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant), and pomegranates (antiinflammatory, memory and mood enhancers). Sweet potatoes are blood pressure regulators and helpful for cardiovascular health. Definitely something to keep in mind!
To get us in the mood for fall and the delicious flavors that come with it, we are featuring 3 delicious and healthy recipes we recommend trying. They are each incredibly full of flavor and health boosting qualities. Try them and let us know what you think!
Kale with Delicate Squash and Hazelnuts
MAKES 6 SERVINGS • PREP TIME: 10 minutes • COOK TIME: 20 minutes
Getting in the swing of eating veggies is like igniting a pilot light on a stove: it may take several tries, but once it’s lit, the flame burns steadily. The challenge is to present important vegetables—and, none is more vital for brain health than kale—in ways that will kick-start your taste for this superfood. Here, kale is paired with an autumn favorite, delicata squash, along with garlic, red pepper flakes, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to create a dish that’s both a delight to the eyes and the taste buds. The chopped roasted hazelnuts take the entire concoction completely over the top.
2 bunches dinosaur kale, stemmed and cut in bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 medium delicata squash, seeded and flesh cut into bite-size pieces
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
Cover the kale with cold water and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep sauté pan over medium heat, then stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 15 seconds, then immediately add the squash and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Let cook until the squash is caramelized and just tender, about 10 minutes.
Drain the kale and add it to the pan in batches along with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté until the greens turn bright green and wilt, about 5 minutes. Test the greens for tenderness; you may need to add 1 tablespoon of water and continue cooking, covered for another 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle on 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and the maple syrup and stir gently. Taste; you may want to add a pinch or two of salt and another squeeze of lemon. Garnish with the hazelnuts and serve immediately.
Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets
MAKES 4 SERVINGS • PREP TIME: 20 minutes • COOK TIME: 1 hour
Certain foods are so valuable from a health perspective that they need to show up time and again in new and interesting forms. So it is with lentils. They’re so versatile, and they act as a great backdrop for salads and side dishes. In this recipe, they’re the foundation for a wonderful blend of citrus and crunch, with fennel, sweet roasted beets, and walnuts all gleefully playing together in the sandbox.
1 cup dried lentils, preferably Le Puy green lentils, rinsed well
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick, or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Toasted Cumin Citrus Vinaigrette
1 cup diced fennel
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Wrap the beets in parchment paper, then in foil, and roast for 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on their size), until tender and fragrant. Remove from the oven and, when they are cool enough, peel and cut into small cubes.
Combine the lentils, garlic, bay leaf, and cinnamon in a saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils thoroughly and discard the garlic clove, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick.
Toss the lentils with half the vinaigrette and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and let it rest a few minutes. Then add the fennel, beets, and remaining dressing. Stir in the mint and parsley, walnuts, and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Taste; you may want to add another pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, or a bit more lemon juice. Serve. VARIATION: This salad can also be heated and served over arugula or spinach. The heat will gently wilt the greens.
COOK'S NOTE: You don’t have to presoak lentils, but rinse them well in a bowl of cold water, using your hands to swish them around. Drain and repeat until the water is clear. Don’t boil lentils, which makes them mushy and causes them to fall apart. Let them simmer for a nice, tender texture.
Sweet Potato Bars
MAKES ABOUT 16 PIECES • PREP TIME: 15 minutes • COOK TIME: 45 minutes, plus 2 hours for chilling
These Sweet Potato bars remind me of a healthier version of the lemon bars I used to make as a kid. Probably because this is a treat any youngster would like, a great combination of a vegetable-based sweet snack and a nutty, gluten-free crust. Sweet Potatoes and cinnamon have great anti-oxidant and blood sugar regulating capacity, making them a great anytime bar. They’re so nutrient dense it doesn’t take much to feel completely satiated, and the tastes are so delightful that you’re blissfully aware of every bite.
Prepare ahead: Leave yourself 2 hours for these yummy bars to chill before cutting and eating.
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted pistachio nuts
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup teff flour
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sweet Potato Layer
These Sweet Potato bars remind me of a healthier version of the lemon bars. Sweet Potatoes and cinnamon have great anti-oxidant and blood sugar regulating capacity, making them a great anytime bar. They’re so nutrient dense it doesn’t take much to feel completely satiated, and the tastes are so delightful that you’re blissfully aware of every bite. Leave yourself 2 hours for these yummy bars to chill before cutting and eating.
1 pound garnet yams or orange fleshed sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup plain organic yogurt
2 large eggs
freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Prick the yams all over with a fork and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until they are very soft. Allow them to cool.
Lightly oil an 8-inch square-baking pan. Place the oats, salt, cinnamon, pistachio nuts, pecans, teff four and orange zest in a food processor bowl with a fitted metal blade. Pulse until the ingredients are like a coarse meal. Add the maple syrup and olive oil and continue to pulse until all the ingredients are evenly moist, but still crumbly looking. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press it evenly and firmly into the bottom. Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until set. Remove from oven, but keep it on.
Meanwhile, peel the yam and mash the flesh. Measure 1 1/2 cups of mashed yam, and place into the food processor bowl. Add the maple syrup, orange zest, cardamom, ginger, yogurt, and eggs and process until smooth. Pour the mixture onto the crust and smooth the top evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle with nutmeg and bake about 25 minutes or until the filling is set and just beginning to pull from the sides of pan. Allow to completely on a rack. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Cut into16 squares.
STORAGE: Store refrigerated in airtight container for 4 days or freeze tightly wrapped for 2 months.
COOK'S NOTE: Teff is gluten free flour. Technically, oats are gluten free, however, they are subject to cross contamination. If you’re extremely sensitive to gluten we recommend using Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats.