Treats don’t have to be sugar-filled
Celebrating Halloween can mean much more than sugary treats. There are lots of fun and healthful ways to approach a special meal for this holiday.
Halloween is a perfect occasion to build a meal around colors. A delicious orange and black meal is easy to cook, whether it’s for adults or children. Bright orange vegetables are a treat for the eyes and taste buds, and are also very nutritious. Yams, carrots, and especially pumpkins are obvious choices.
Black foods aren’t quite as easy to think of … I’ve made my share of black food by burning things, but that’s not what I mean here. Black beans and raisins are a start, and you can dress up a green salad for the occasion by heaping on a handful of black olives and grated or sliced carrots. For a table centerpiece, you’ll probably have the perfect thing on hand already – your jack-o-lantern.
Serving a good meal before heading out for trick-or-treating or a party is a real treat for family and friends, and may keep everyone from overdoing the sweets later on.
This pumpkin soup is flavored with pungent herbs, so while delicious to adult palates, it is probably too “interesting” for most children.
Pumpkin or Winter Squash Soup with Fried Sage Leaves
From Eddy Sitzer
21Ú2 to 3 pounds pumpkin
1Ú4 cup olive oil + extra for the pumpkin
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
12 whole sage leaves + 2 tablespoons chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
1Ú2 cup parsley, chopped
1Ú4 teaspoon dried thyme or 4 chopped fresh sprigs
11Ú2 teaspoons salt
2 quarts water or stock
1Ú2 cup parmesan, fontina or feta cheese
Pepper, freshly ground
Preheat the oven to 375û. Halve the pumpkin and clean out the seeds. Brush the surfaces with oil and place them with cut sides down on a baking sheet, with the garlic cloves in the cavities. Bake until tender, about 30 minutes.
While you’re waiting, heat the quarter cup of oil in a small skillet until almost smoking. Drop the sage leaves in and fry for about 1 minute until they are speckled and dark. Set them aside on a paper towel and pour the now-flavored oil into a wide soup pot.
Add the onions, chopped sage, parsley, and thyme, and cook over medium heat until the onions begin to brown, about 12 minutes. Scoop the pumpkin flesh plus any juices from the baking into the pot. Peel and add the garlic, salt, and the 2 quarts of water or stock. Stir while bringing it to a boil. Lower the heat, partially cover, then simmer for 25 minutes.
If the soup is too thick, add a little more water. Puree it for a more refined soup. Ladle into bowls using the fried sage leaves, cheese, and pepper to garnish. Serves 4 to 6.
This pumpkin soup is perfect for children and busy parents – simple and sweet, like pumpkin pie in a bowl.
Easy Pumpkin Soup
From Helen Neff
Two 15-oz. cans pure, organic pumpkin (not sweetened)
21Ú2 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
1 cup lowfat sour cream or lowfat/nonfat yogurt
1 to 2 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
1Ú4 cup pure maple syrup*
2 teaspoons butter
1Ú8 teaspoon cinnamon
1Ú8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1Ú8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pumpkin seeds to garnish (optional)
Bring first four ingredients to simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often. Whisk in syrup, butter, and spices. Simmer 10 minutes, whisking often. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Sprinkle ground nutmeg on top, and serve. This soup can be made a day in advance, and can be frozen. Bring to a simmer before serving.
Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Cream
From Kalita Todd Cantisano
3Ú4 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
1Ú4 cup dried tomatoes, soaked
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1Ú2 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, seeded/minced
3Ú4 teaspoon cumin
11Ú4 teaspoon Spike or salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
11Ú2 pounds chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
3Ú4 cup cornmeal
1Ú2 bunch cilantro, chopped
3Ú4 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1Ú2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped
3Ú4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons lime juice
Place black beans in a large pot, cover with water, and soak overnight. Next day, change water and cook beans until soft. Sauté onion and garlic in oil, add jalapeño, cumin, chili powder, and salt, sauté until fragrant, 1 to 3 minutes.
Add tomatoes and their liquid, cooked beans, chopped tomatoes, cornmeal, cilantro, corn, and vegetable broth. Heat to boiling, and then reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat.
Puree in blender or food processor, in batches. Serve warm with a dollop of Cilantro Cream.
Cilantro Cream: In small bowl, combine ingredients, mix well. Chill in refrigerator for one hour. Add to soup and enjoy.
For the deep orange color be sure you buy garnet yams – a moist variety of sweet potato.
Yam Baked Fries
From Penelope Sullivan
Yams, garnet – as many as you want
Salt, to taste
Rosemary, to taste (a nice touch for those who like this herb’s strong flavor, but may not taste good to some children)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut yams to desired thickness, similar to French fries. Place yams and enough olive oil to lightly coat them in a bowl with a lid, and shake thoroughly. Spread yams on a baking tray and sprinkle on salt and rosemary, if desired. Bake until tender inside, or longer for a crispier outside.
This cookie recipe works with wheat and sugar substitutes or not. The apple butter makes the color of these pumpkin cookies closer to black than orange, but adds a nice flavor.
Halloween Pumpkin Cookies
Reprinted with permission from “Feeding the Whole Family” by Cynthia Lair
2 cups flour: 1 cup barley flour and 1 cup spelt flour (sold in bulk at BriarPatch) OR 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup white flour
1Ú2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1Ú4 teaspoon nutmeg
3Ú4 cup pumpkin puree (cooked winter squash or sweet potato can be substituted)
3Ú4 cup date sugar (sold in bulk at BriarPatch) or other sugar
1Ú2 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
carob or chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flours, baking soda, and spices in one bowl and set aside.
In another bowl mix pumpkin, date sugar, apple butter, and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry. Lightly oil cookie sheet and drop by the tablespoon on sheet. You may also add carob [or chocolate] chips. Bake 15 minutes.
Carrot raisin salads are fairly common, but this one adds nuts and has options for those who don’t like mayonnaise. If you’re trying to cut down on fat, use lowfat sour cream and/or lowfat or even nonfat yogurt.
Carrot Raisin Nut Salad
From Helen Neff
4 large carrots, grated
1Ú2 cup raisins
1Ú2 pecans, walnuts, or peanuts
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon peel, grated
3Ú4 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1 cup any combination of sour cream (cultured), yogurt, or mayonnaise
Lightly mix together all ingredients except sour cream/yogurt/mayonnaise mixture; then add mixture and toss all.
BriarPatch Co-op Natural Foods Community Market; 131 Joerschke Drive, Grass Valley, (530) 272-5333.
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