Get this easy recipe for plant-based pea stuffed puff pastry and a heavenly acorn squash and almond butter with links for raw vegan fudge. Also find out what yacon syrup is.
Every so often I come across a blog that I think is just too good to be true. I picture a team of bloggers behind this “author” all hard at work on turning out post after post of unbelievable recipes and information. Surely, this can’t be the work of just one blogger!
Such is the case with the blog Food to Glow. Written in Scotland by a health educationist and nutrition adviser with Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centers, Kellie is a foodie among foodies. She knows her stuff when it comes to foods that help fight cancer, and while not all of her creations are vegan, she usually gives vegan options for recipe ingredients and has a separate section for vegan recipes in her blog recipe index. She is a master at blending flavors and consistencies and I find my mouth watering when I just read the title of her posts. Her photos are also professional and beautiful and she always tells such beautiful stories with the recipes that I wouldn’t be surprised if she lived in a perfectly decorated gingerbread house.
So when I decided to have the family over for New Year’s Eve, I wanted to make something special. I have 5 sisters and all of us (except for one) eats plant-based. I knew exactly where to go for ideas: Kellie’s recipe index. There I found two recipes that made me the heroine of the day.
Butternut squash and almond pate and Curried Pea Stuffed Hand Pies.
I changed the names when I presented them to my family. (The word “pate” makes me think of goose liver, and this is flippin far from goose liver) So the pseudo name for that recipe is “Sweet Butternut Squash Butter”. The soft sweetness with just a hint of rosemary and garlic leave you wanting more. I made some small changes like eliminating the option for dried herbs. The use of fresh herbs in this recipe not only makes the flavor a symphony in your mouth, but it also makes your house smell like the kitchen of a master chef.
Sweet Butternut Squash and Almond Butter
You’ll need a blender or food processor.
- ½ medium organic is possible butternut squash (I used the whole thing)
- 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 long sprig of fresh rosemary (I used three 4 inch sprigs, but use can’t overuse the rosemary in this case)
- 4 cloves unpeeled garlic (the garlic mellows dramatically with baking)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika – optional
- squeeze of fresh lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 ounces fresh raw almonds or ready-ground almonds
Wash and halve the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds and put the garlic, 2 sprigs of thyme and half of the rosemary in the seed cavity. Drizzle over the oil, place the squash cut-side down on a baking tray and bake at 180C/350F, until softened – about 45-55 minutes. The skin will wrinkle and darken in patches, and will feel soft and yield when squeezed. A fork should easily sink in. Leave to cool a bit before carefully turning over and removing the garlic and herbs.
Photo courtesy of Food to Glow
Now scoop out the tender, saffron-colored flesh and pop this into a bowl. Slip the garlic out of the skins by squeezing it and add that to the bowl. Strip the leaves from the remaining thyme and tender rosemary leaves. Chop the rosemary leaves and add the rosemary and the thyme to the squash and garlic.
Process almonds until they are a sand consistency. Strip the remaining uncooked thyme and rosemary leaves and add them to the processor or blender and pulse several times. Then add the squash mix and lemon (and paprika if you wish) and process or puree well until very smooth. I found adding a grind or two of fresh black pepper was nice too.
This butter was much better after it was refrigerated for a few hours or overnight. The flavors came together nicely.
Kellie tells you how to save the squash seeds and use them as well. (She’s just a little TOO good, don’t you think?)
I served this with lavash
crackers but was great the day after with raw sliced yellow squash and cucumber chips to dip.
Next is the adorable little curry/pea cakes! Because there wasn’t much “curry” to the way I made them, they got a name change too. (hope you don’t mind)
As she often does, Kellie gives a little nutrition lesson before the recipe:
Nutrition notes: When thinking about nutrient-rich foods we often ignore the commonplace and inexpensive in favor of the exotic and pricey. But as is often the case, what we want and need is right in front of us. Peas are a case in point. These ‘great balls of fiber’ (I’m mangling Jerry Lee Lewis. Sorry) contain useful nutrients in abundance, including the polyphenol phytoestrogen coumestrol, a phytonutrient that may help lower risk of stomach cancer and possibly estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. Other phytonutrinets contribute to it being anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic, and all legumes – of which peas are a major one – have lots of doctor-recommended fiber. Peas are also very low in fat, but the fat they do contain help us use the rather impressive amount of beta-carotene, and small but useful amount of Vitamin E rolled up in this extremely useful denizen of the deep-freeze. Bags of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, manganese, folate and thiamin too. And it’s true what they say, frozen is best. At least for peas. Not for Edinburgh-based Floridians. Brrrrr.
(While it was not in the original recipe, I added the quinoa and the vegan mozzarella cheese when I made it to give the filling some chutzpah
Vegan Pea-Stuffed Puff Pastry
- 1 heaped cup petit pois or garden peas, frozen (Petit pois? Mine were just green. I told you…I’m not a chef)
- 5 scallions, sliced
- 1 tsp organic extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp Tandoori masala or garam masala, or to taste (Masala is a dry collection of Indian herbs, but I couldn’t find it. I used a paste I found that said “tandoori” but I only used 1 tsp.)
- 4 heaped tbsp chive and garlic vegan cream cheese (soft cream cheese)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (the original recipe calls for a heaped 1/2 tsp lemon zest, but I didn’t have the time)
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 tablespoons vegan mozzarella (I used Daiya…my new love!)
- 2 sheets of ready rolled puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm brand because I was in a hurry. It was vegan, but it has hydrogenated oils. If I made this again I would try this recipe)
- Almond milk, to glaze
- Kalonji seeds/nigella seeds, to garnish (I used chia seeds)
1. Simmer peas until just cooked though (not mushy), drain and run under cool water. Pop this into a food processor.
2. Gently sauté the scallions in the oil, adding the tandoori masala once the onions are soft – about five minutes. Add the now-spiced onion to the food processor, along with the cream cheese and lemon juice. Pulse until it is half smooth and half chunky, or keep it all chunky if you like. I used a blender for this. Stir in the quinoa and the mozzarella. You can make the filling a day ahead as I did and keep in fridge.
3. Lay out one of the pastry sheets and cut out circles with your largest scone/biscuit cutter or use a plastic or metal cup. I used a paper coffee cup. Lay each round onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and top each with a small dollop of pea mix. Fold over the pastry to form a half-moon and pinch to close. Brush on a little milk and sprinkle over seeds, if using. Do the same with the other puff pastry sheet, then bake the pies in a 400F oven for 12-15 minutes, or until all are puffed and golden. Serve warm with mango chutney.
Makes 18-20 pastries. If you have any filling left over it’s wonderful warmed up on celery sticks or carrot chips.
Needless to say, these were a big hit. (Thanks Kellie)
For dessert, we had The Savvy Sister’s Chocolate Beetroot Cupcakes
and an amazing raw vegan, sugar-free, fudge
that my friend Mara brought. I was amazed that this fudge was so perfectly sweet because instead of the maple syrup that the recipe calls for, she used a natural sweetener called Yacon syrup
that tasted just like sugar. (I think the innocent stevia leaf is becoming over processed.)
Yacon is a root like sweet potatoes, and it is magic because it’s a sweetener that does not get metabolized, so it does not raise your blood sugar level. It helps with weight loss and has been shown in animal studies to have cholesterol lowering effects as well as bone strengthening and cancer fighting effects. It also boosts your immunity. Quick! Get yours before some huge corporation gets their hand all over it and it’s no longer healthy!
For the fudge recipe in the link above, Mara took out the maple syrup and replaced it with 3 tablespoons of Yacon syrup and 3 drops of stevia.
I ate the fudge (yes, all of it) so I don’t have a picture to show, and I’m afraid to make it again because it was really just too good.
Make 2013 the “Year of Trying New Plant-Based, Health Promoting Foods That May Look Odd to You But in the End Will Become Your Best Friend and Keep You Healthy”. (If anyone has a better name for 2013, let me know.)
Look for more recipes and easy cancer-fighting tips in my book co-authored with The Cancer Warrior.
Available in all major bookstores in the USA and Canada and on Amazon.com spring 2013
Categories: healthy cooking, healthy recipes, nutrition, vegan recipes