Summer has come and gone and fall is here with treasured treats like apples & pumpkins. It is not even November yet and I have already made my pumpkin cookies more times than I can count. While arguably not the healthiest way to serve pumpkin, these cookies are one way to ensure a hefty serving of this nutrient rich vegetable. Why do I love pumpkin so? In addition to the multiple health benefits, the combination of dark chocolate & pumpkin is divine. Rich in cocoa phenols, dark chocolate contains potent antioxidants (i.e. disease fighters) Not to be outdone by chocolate, pumpkin offers a healthy dose of Vitamin A (great for vision) is a great source of fiber, is low in calories (only 49 per cup) & rich in the (cancer fighting) antioxidant beta-carotene.
Enjoy, but remember indulge in moderation (although easier said then done when it comes to this moist morsel),
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (you can also do half all purpose, half whole wheat)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp ginger
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (can use fresh)
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup dark chocolate chips (optional) or dried fruit
- Preheat oven to 350 ˚ F
- In a medium bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat butter & brown sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, molasses and vanilla, beat until smooth.
- Add flour mixture and stir by hand just until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir just until blended.
- Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough 2 “ apart on a cookie sheet (I bake on silpats).
- Bake for approximately 12 minutes.
Nutrition Facts: (one cookie):
Adapted from One Smart Cookie
As I traveled around the Northern part of California this September I was extremely excited to be in the birth place of “Fresh, local, scratch” and recycling in the restaurant world. That being said since this trip was about relaxing and celebrating my marriage, I promised it would not be all about food—or at least as much as I could step away from something that is at my very core.
I did not research before going and we just ate in places we either came across in our travels, locals recommended or that popped up on Urbanspoon and Yelp. We would start looking in the area when we got hungry and then just pop into the coolest looking place. Without a doubt every place we went had the Mason Jar as some type of serving vessel—from upscale restaurants to little mom and pop’s. Desserts, beverages, appetizers, soups—all sizes as well—tall, regular size, pint, jelly jar; from humble food storage vessel to a star!
One of the trends in restaurants or food trucks in this part of CA is that they served basically one thing with variations on the theme. Homeroom in Oakland CA is a cool little corner spot that Mac + Cheese is what they do. Every kind with almost anything you can image mixed in. They offer vegetable sides and desserts but the main focus is all about the Mac. Sourcing the freshest ingredients, limiting their menus and making everything to order– these places rocked!! I never thought I could get extremely excited over eating Mac + Cheese but menu items like-The Exchange Student-creamy gouda, scallions, ginger butter and spicy sriracha or Mac the Goat—rich and tangy fresh chevre(locally sourced), sliced scallions, spinach, and crispy breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil—my mouth was in heaven.
Homemade syrups and soda’s hot hot hot; mixologist not bartenders, less meat, and smaller portions-that is what we found all around CA.
Two other aspects never stopped impacting & astounding me and have instilled a great desire to return soon: the freshness of the food everywhere and the commitment from the whole state on every level to take care of the environment. Eating an all meat crab cake sandwich, right after the crab was caught in front of you on the water-oh so sweet!! Vegetables of every kind picked the same day and prepare very simply so the flavor of the individual vegetable or fruit was the star-not a side kick. This was not just at the most expensive places but universal. Food trucks offering squeezed for you fresh juices with produce straight from the farm that day.
Then the commitment to reduce waste was very evident. Recycling and composting at both the ballparks we attended, recycling containers in public areas, composting cans supported by the cities just like our recycling and garbage pickup. Network among the restaurants, homeless shelters, grocery stores and farms to use the food that cannot be sold to the public to help fed the tremendous amount of homeless people. They use Face book, Twitter and blogs to get the information out there and even have a huge source of volunteers to help transport the products.
Feeling truly blessed to have had this experience and so proud to see just how trendy we really are at MG! Our core values are alive and well in CA, too.
Recently I have shared my quest to eat more mindfully & must admit that it is still an uphill battle at times. As I reflect on my healthy living goals, the top priority is to remain active (check) and be mindful about what I put in my mouth (maybe half a check on that one). I have tinkered with the idea of recording what I eat for a few days. However, given the obsessive nature of my personality, I am afraid that calorie counting may become my 3rd job. While I am certainly an advocate of food records, there is a fine line between being aware of what we eat and being obsessed with what we put in our mouths.
As I reflected more on the process of calorie counting I realized that this might not be in alignment with my goal of low stress healthful living. It was serendipitous that I stumbled upon this article from The Stone Soup arguing against calorie counting. The article goes on to talk about mindful eating and though I think there are certain situations where calorie counting is warranted (certain medical conditions that require calories for weight gain/maintenance, etc) this article is pretty spot on. I encourage all of you to read it.
- Calorie counting takes the joy out of eating
- Counting calories encourages you to eat packaged, processed food
- Counting calories doesn’t guarantee you will get the nutrients you need
- Counting calories teaches you to ignore your natural satiety cues
- Calorie restriction doesn’t work for maintaining weight loss in the long term
- Cutting calories doesn’t address the root cause of your problem
- The colors reflect antioxidants (think disease fighting)
- Offers protection against chronic disease in many different ways
- Think variety!
Source: Michael Pollan: Food Rules
The fall season is upon us and my to do list includes attending a University of Virginia Football game, making my favorite pumpkin cookies & apple picking. Apple picking happens to be one of my very favorite seasonal activities. I am very fortunate to live in such a beautiful region of the country which offers breathtaking mountain views as we pick our delectable treats.. My old favorite, Fuji, are ripe for the picking in October. Recently however, I have discovered a variety that rivals my old favorite, Gold Rush. Gold Rush is a late maturing apple with outstanding fruit quality and long storage ability. Though not ripe for the picking just yet, November will be the perfect time to stock up on these golden beauties. The first Gold Rush seedling was planted in the year of my birth, 1973, so it must be fate. If you happen to live in my neck of the woods, here is a link to apple picking paradise. http://www.virginia.org/fall/
For healthier baking: you can replace the fat in any baking recipe using applesauce. It’s a one-to-one ratio, so simply sub applesauce for the quantity of fat called for. You can also lighten baking recipes by cutting the quantity of sugar called for in half. Chances are, most people won’t even realize it’s gone, and it will reduce calorie count considerably.
Here are a few other ways to lighted up your favorite baked goods:
- Butter: Canola, mild olive oil, prune purée or applesauce
- 1 ounce of chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 eggs: 1 egg + 2 whites or egg substitute
- Cream, whole milk (in batters, muffins or biscuit doughs): Skin or lowfat (1%) milk
- Cream Cheese (in cheesecake): Lowfat ricotta + yogurt; light cream cheese
- Ricotta cheese, whole-milk: 1/2 whole milk ricotta plus either part-skim ricotta or
- lowfat (1%) cottage cheese
- Sour Cream: Plain yogurt
- Whipped cream, ice cream (to top cakes, pies, warm fruit desserts): Frozen yogurt,
- Lowfat yogurt
- 1 cup whipped cream (in mousse mixtures): 3 stiffly beaten egg whites or 3/4 to 1 cup
- Yogurt Cheese
- 1 cup whipping or heavy: 1 cup evaporated skim milk cream (for whipping)