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healthy ANDI licious

Dairy-Free Spiced Butternut Squash Pie October 9, 2011

Butternut just keeps getting better & better.

Dairy-Free Spiced Butternut Squash Pie
With Ginger Snap & Crisp Wheat Crust

So I’ve  found a yet another use for the wonderful butternut squash I’ve been getting from the farmer’s market this season: PIE. I adore the smell and taste of spiced pumpkin pie and have made it for Thanksgiving every year but I haven’t ever tried it with other squash. I was determined to make my own butternut squash pie from scratch for the first time last week so that I could bring some with me to NYC as a gift. As an added culinary challenge,  this pie needed to be dairy-free. Most recipes use sweetened condensed milk so I wondered whether the flavor would suffer at all from this omission.  I found that some recipes suggested replacing the milk with vanilla soy milk or coconut milk. Coconut milk tends to be the creamiest of  milk alternatives so I opted for this replacement. Banking on the natural sweetness of the cooked squash, I cut the sugar added to only about 1/3 of what the recipes suggested. Using a combo of Light Coconut Milk (less fat than the original) along with a splash of almond milk, vamping up the cinnamon and throwing in a tbsp of flaxseed powder -I just couldn’t help “healthifying” the recipe. Having used much less added sugar & fat than recipes suggest, I was a bit nervous when I took the first bite.  I MISSED NOTHING. The First Bite

Aromatic cinnamon & nutmeg mixed perfectly with the sweet squash complemented deliciously by the snappy ginger crust. This pie was a true slice of heaven. Try it for yourself!

Ingredients
Makes TWO pies. This pie is so good, you’re going to want the extra one.

2 whole butternut squashes (I used pretty large ones, they were about 3lbs each)
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp fresh or frozen ginger (Optional. Note: Powdered ginger will not taste the same. If us use it, don’t use more than 1/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp salt
5 cage-free eggs
1/2 cup reduced-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (You can use all almond or all coconut if you prefer)
1 tsp vanilla extract (Optional. I didn’t have any and my pies did not miss it. If it’s not the real stuff, don’t bother)

Ginger Snap Crust Blended with Olive Oil & Whole Wheat Flour

The Crust
Makes 2 crusts

– 1 bag 365 brand (Whole Foods)  Ginger Snaps (or any without dairy- some brands are made with butter)
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-Dash of nutmeg
-3 tbsp olive or canola oil
-4 tbsp whole wheat flour

Methods

Preheat oven to 350 ° F. Wash squash and slice into halves and quarters and place on baking pan with a splash of water. Cover with tin foil and bake for about 1 hour until tender. While, the squash is baking, prepare the crust. Put the dry ingredients for the crust together in a food processor (or blender) and blend until the become a pretty uniform powder. Add the oil and blend. Smoothly pat the crust in place in your pie pans.

When squash has cooked, put the crust in the oven (same temp) to bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pans after 10 minutes and pop them in the freezer to cool.

Meanwhile, time to make the filling. Using a spoon or fork scrape out all of the flesh of the squash into your food processor or blender. Save the seeds in a container to roast them later for a great snack. You will probably need to blend in batches if you are making a large batch. It doesn’t matter how much of the other ingredients you put into each batch because you will mix them all together in a large bowl once blended. Just make sure that all of the ingredients get blended into the mix.

Take your fully-cooled pie crusts out of the freezer and pour in the filling. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Place pies in the oven and bake at 350°F for 50-55 minutes. Remove baked pies and allow to cool (preferably by a cool open window) for 2-3 hours. Serve and enjoy!

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Local Farm Feast in the Heart of the City October 2, 2011

A colorful plate!

After some absolutely wonderful restaurant adventures this weekend (Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, Moroccan Brunch, Sushi for two…), today Ben & I decided to cook our own little feast. I have been studying the role of Farmer’s Markets in urban environments in several of my classes lately so it was extremely fitting to bring this education to life with a trip to a couple for some local fare. In Massachusetts, farmer’s markets follow strict local policies- the food is either from the state or from a bordering state. I am not sure if an identical rule applies to those in New York but I would imagine that this is the case since NYC  has been extremely progressive in its Farmer’s Market efforts–being one of the first cities to make the markets easily accessible to both SNAP and WIC shoppers.

Ben is extremely fortunate to have a weekly farmer’s market that comes almost literally right to his doorstep. So this beautiful crisp October morning we walked out to the row of fresh produce, bread, meat and fish farm stands and happily gathered up a few things for lunch.

Today’s Picks
Butternut Squash
Shallots
Purple Potatoes
Honeycrisp Apples
New York Farm fresh turkey

Union Square Farmer's Market in NYC

We sauteed the butternut squash with some fresh sage, sauteed the purple potatoes with shallots, used a natural Santa Fe marinade and pan seared the fresh ground turkey into mini burgers, and served up our feast with an appetizer of freshly baked organic kale chips and broiled cinnamon oranges for dessert. Tonight, back in Boston, I am already itching to look up when the next farmer’s market will be near me! Luckily in Boston, a good farmer’s market is easy to find. Can’t wait to return to the NYC market next weekend and take the sweet approach with another butternut squash (I’m thinking baked with cinnamon sugar…) Find a farmer’s market in your city at localharvest.org.

 

Events today! September 15, 2010

Events today to check out:

  • Farmer’s Market: Lower Patio of the Campus Center 11am-2pm.
  • TSR Fitness Free Week Preview Classes: 6-7pm Caliente Cardio Dance and 7-8pm Pilates
  • Tufts Culinary Society GIM: 9pm in Barnum 008
 

Tracing Food to Its Roots September 13, 2010

The first chapter of Pollan's "The Botany of Desire" uncovers the surprisingly complex history of the apple. I was amazed to learn the expression "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," usually suggesting that a child is a lot like their parent, is shockingly ironic given that apple seeds, if planted, will produce a tree that is nothing like the original.

In the spring semester of my sophomore year (2009), I was completely ecstatic to learn that one of my favorite authors would be speaking at Tufts. The itunes version The Omnivore’s Dilemma had kept my long daily ride to one summer internship sane the previous summer and I could not wait to hear more of what the author of a book that unleashed the untold story of a meal would have to say.  I am referring, of course, to none other than author and journalist Michael Pollan, whose recent work has captured the nation’s attention by creating awareness of the U.S. food systems and our growing “national eating disorder.”

Pollan did not disappoint. That March his arrival packed Cohen Auditorium and he proved as dynamic a speaker as a writer. If you were there that day, you are probably fondly reminiscing by now about the incredible local and organic fare that followed in Carmichael and Dewick. (If you weren’t there but wish you were here’s your chance: Watch Pollan’s lecture at Tufts online.)

There were several key take-aways that I took for Pollan’s books ( In Defense of Food was my beach-side read one summer and The Botany of Desire has been this summer’s travel companion) and one of these has been the value of supporting local farmers. The local and organic food movements have had similar ideas–eating fresh, reducing environmental impact–but diverge in their specific regulations and modes of delivery. Local fare is intended to be just that. Many local farmers do follow practices that would be considered organic but do not have the money to pay for the USDA certification.

Certified organic fare, on the other hand, may follow organic practices perfectly but then be shipped across continents (some say the fuel/energy expended to do this defeats a great part of the purpose). I will do a post that explores more about organic and local definitions, pros and controversies soon. I believe both the organic and local food movements have their advantages (especially when combined).

If you’ve read any of Pollan’s books, seen Food Inc., or if you have a chance to watch a few minutes of the lecture, I hope you will be inspired stop by the Farmer’s Market on campus this Wednesday (and every Wednesday through 10/27). Your interest and support will encourage Tufts to continue supplying us with local fare and supporting the farming communities around us.