Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

As you may have noticed, I never tire of squash, so autumn has been full of great meals. This recipe is incredibly simple, but satisfying and tasty. Squash is a good, dense vegetable, so it can take the place of a less healthy dish while filling your body with important micro-nutrients. Cinnamon is a “warming” herb, so it’s perfect to make you feel more cozy during the cooler months. (And as a bonus, cinnamon even assists in blood-sugar regulation. This gives me an excuse to add more of it.) Add a side of sauteed kale and cranberries, and you’ve got a balanced fall meal. Cinnamon Sticks

Ingredients:

  • 1 small or medium butternut squash, cut in half.
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Butter or Earth Balance (optional)

Directions: Roasted Butternut Squash

Preheat the oven to 400F. Oil the cookie sheet or baking pan, and pour 1/2 cup of water in the pan. Cut the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard, then place each piece face down on the pan.

Cook for about 30-45 minutes; it is cooked when you can pierce it with a fork. Take the squash out of the oven, and using a tongs, flip each side over. Once the squash is face-up, drizzle honey over each piece.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the honey, be as generous as you want. If you want to use butter (or butter substitute) place a couple pats of it on top of each piece. Place it back in the oven, and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the squash from the oven, and wait for it to cool a little. Cut each half into 3 pieces, and serve warm. You can always add more cinnamon in the end!

7 Fall Foods to Help Lower Blood Pressure

Although high blood pressure is one of the most common ailments to affect the modern world, it is also one of the most easily remedied conditions; changing your lifestyle is the key! Reducing the amount of processed foods you consume, along with increasing the volume of whole and natural foods you consume, combined with moderate exercise and adequate rest, are the corner-stones to reducing high blood pressure and maintaining a healthy, energetic life. Fortunately, Fall provides a bounty of  foods that are not only tasty, but have just the right ingredients to get your blood pressure on track.

Be sure to check out: 7 Foods to Help Lower Blood Pressure and 5 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure Without Medication for more tips for lowering blood pressure naturally.

Acorn Squash, and other winter and fall squashes such as pumpkin, butternut squash, kabocha, and banana squash, are a delicious addition to any meal (or as a meal!) for those looking to lower and maintain healthy blood pressure. Acorn squash boasts an impressive amount of the minerals magnesium and potassium, as well as some calcium. Adequate amounts of these minerals are important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, as they directly help to regulate proper blood vessel function (and thus blood pressure). In addition, acorn squash contains numerous other beneficial nutrients, such as Beta-carotene and Vitamin C. Both these nutrients are important for helping to reduce inflammation in your body — reducing levels of inflammation is also important for reducing high blood pressure, but also important for reducing your risk for all other diseases, especially heart disease. Not sure how to eat acorn squash? Try roasting it in the oven and preparing the seeds. It’s simple to prepare, and you can prepare all the winter squashes the same way!

Brussels Sprouts are commonly despised by children and adults alike, yet are one of the most health promoting foods you can consume! When it comes to blood pressure, they’re almost ideal! Brussels sprouts contain an impressive amount of potassium, one of those all-important electrolytes important for regulating blood pressure. Being a member of the cabbage family, they also contain large amounts of Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, and beneficial phytonutrients that decrease inflammation and help reduce your risk for all forms of cancer. Most people are introduced to Brussels sprouts steamed, which is perhaps the least appetizing way they can be prepared. Try cutting your Brussels sprouts in half, coating them with a bit of olive oil, tossing them with your favorite spices (a generic seasoning spice is wonderful), and roasting in the oven at 400°F for tasty vegetable dish!

Apples are said to keep the doctor away for good reason! This fruit seems common place in the face of other ‘superfruits’ (like pomegranate and açaí) that we tend to forget it’s substantial health benefits. Apples contain a unique kind of soluble fiber called pectin. Pectin has been linked to lowering high cholesterol levels, reducing body inflammation, improving elimination, and reducing high blood pressure. Apples also boast a respectable amount of Vitamin C and an antioxidant called quercetin, which has been shown to increase oxygen availability in your lungs, thereby increasing overall endurance and relieving stress on your body. Try eating apples raw, baked or sauteed, or even make your own apple sauce!

Pumpkin Seeds, also known as pepitas, are usually available year-round at most grocery stores, but can be made fresh during the Fall! Pumpkin seeds contain large amounts of magnesium, an important mineral for maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood flower. A single serving of pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup) can contain as much as 50% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium! Pumpkin seeds also boast significant quantities of Vitamin E and zinc, two important nutrients required to promote optimal health, including supporting a healthy libido. Pumpkin seeds are especially beneficial for men, with numerous studies suggesting that consuming pumpkin seeds regularly will help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. You can eat pumpkin seeds shelled (pepitas), or prepare your own by saving the seeds from jack-o-lanterns and roasting them in the oven. This can also be done with any seeds you save from other winter squashes, such as acorn squash!

Sweet Potato, while not considered as villainous as the potato before it, is frequently served loaded with large quantities of fats and brown sugar. But like the potato, it is extremely beneficial to helping to reduce high blood pressure. Sweet potatoes contain ample amounts of those important electrolytes magnesium and potassium, and also a hefty quantity of Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes take the nutrition level up from potatoes in that they also contain large amounts of Beta-carotene, helping to reduce your body’s inflammation. In addition, sweet potatoes having a lower Glycemic index than potatoes, making them a more ideal choice for those looking to regulate blood sugar. Eat sweet potatoes steamed or baked, and try to avoid them fried as sweet potato fries (a new trend) or candied (as frequently served for Thanksgiving).

Kale is a nutrient powerhouse of a vegetable. Like the Brussels sprout, it is also a member of the cabbage family. I had a recent article about the full health benefits of kale, but it’s so nutritious it was worth mentioning again! Kale contains a very large quantity of potassium, but also contains large amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and Omega 3 fats — all of which are important for regulating a healthy blood pressure, and largely work in conjunction with each other! Since Kale is a member of the cabbage family, be sure to cook it the majority of the time you consume it, such as by steaming or sauteed lightly.

No Fall, Winter, or holiday treat is complete with the blood pressure reducing herb that is Cinnamon! While cinnamon is largely known for being delicious, it is most frequently touted for helping to regulate blood sugar levels. However, more recent studies have also shown cinnamon to be an important addition to helping regulate healthy blood pressure levels. The blood pressure regulating effect of cinnamon has been shown to be even more powerful for those looking to regulate blood sugar levels. While it is unknown exactly why cinnamon is beneficial for regulating blood pressure, it likely has to do with lowering overall inflammation in the body. Sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal in the morning, or especially on your baked apples and acorn squash!

Roasted Acorn Squash with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Balsamic

Although I love summer, fall is my second favorite season. I love the smells, the colors, and the cooler nights. But really, my favorite part is the squash. I love almost all kinds of squash…spaghetti squash, acorn, pumpkin, butternut…I love them all. They’re full of nutrients and fiber, and they’re more filling than many other vegetables.

I made this particular recipe with a friend. She had bought some acorn squash and wanted to experiment. Our favorite part was the pan-toasted pumpkin seeds. Once I discovered pan-toasting, I toast almost every nut and seed this way. It’s quick and easy, and is less damaging to the sensitive oils. And best of all, it’s so tasty! So please enjoy, and let me know if you have any suggestions to make it even more delicious.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

2 medium acorn squash

4 tablespoons olive oilPumpkin Seeds

salt and pepper, to taste

¼ cup shelled pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

***Optional: ¼ cup fresh parsley, sage, or mint leaves, torn.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Cut squash in half, and spoon out seeds (and the stringy stuff) and discard. Cut squash into 1½”-thick slices. Coat slices with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Lay slices on a baking sheet.

3. Place in then oven and roast for about 30 minutes, turning slices over halfway through. They should be golden brown on both sides, and soft enough to eat.

4. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds, turning them often so they don’t burn. They should brown slightly, but still be a little green. Once they’re down, place them on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.  Season with salt. Roasted Acorn Squash with Pan Toasted Pumpkin Seeds 5. Place squash on serving plates, and sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds on each piece. Drizzle on balsamic vinegar. (Don’t over-do it, vinegar goes a long way!) If you are using any fresh herbs, lightly sprinkle those on as well.

6. Serve warm and enjoy!

Balsamic Marinated Figs and Blueberries with Brie

Happy Labor Day! Although relaxation is imperative for health, holidays are often associated with overeating and unhealthy food. I decided to post this recipe, although to be totally honest, it’s not the healthiest thing I’ve posted…but I decided that for a holiday, I could meet halfway and go for a treat. It does has antioxidants and fiber in the figs and blueberries, and protein in the brie. Good-quality balsamic can ease digestion. It can be made gluten-free with a gf bread choice. It’s not the best for food combining, and it’s not vegan…but like I said, this holiday. Let’s meet in the middle. I first made this on a lovely day off, after I had picked some fresh blueberries off an alpaca farm. I hope you enjoy!

Balsamic Marinated Figs and Blueberries with BrieBalsamic Marinated Figs and Blueberries with Brie 

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 ripe figs
  • Blueberries
  • Aged Balsamic, or blackberry balsamic vinegar **
  • Extra virgin olive oil**Oilve Oil, Aged Balsamic, Brie, Figs, and Blueberries
  • 1/2 round of Brie or Camembert Cheese
  • Fresh bread (Italian or Ciabatta work best) or crackers
  • Fresh or dried thyme
  • Fresh or dried marjoram
  • Salt and Pepper
  • *Optional: white or black truffle salt

**Quality is very important! You want thick, barrel aged balsamic. I love the classic We Olive Balsamic that is local to California, but you should be able to find some online, or in a specialty grocery store. The same goes for olive oil! By law, olive oil can be mixed with a certain % of low-quality vegetable oil. So if it’s very cheap, it’s probably not pure! Besides We Olive, I also LOVE Temecula Olive Oil Company. The Fresh Basil Olive Oil is to die for. Supporting local products is also more environmentally friendly, as it saves on the shipping fuel.

Directions:

  1. Slice the tops off the figs, and cut into quarters. Place the figs and a handful of blueberries into a bowl. Finely chop the thyme and marjoram, and sprinkle over the top (fresh herbs are always best, but if not available dried works as well). Season with salt and crushed pepper. (Use less salt if you plan to use the truffle salt. But don’t put the truffle salt in yet; it will be used later.)
  2. Pour We Olive balsamic vinegar over the fruit. They should be pretty well covered, around 3 tablespoons. Put the bowl aside in a cool, dry place. (Not the refrigerator.) Let it marinade for at least an hour. Balsamic Marinated Figs and Blueberries
  3. If you’re using fresh bread, cut it into thin slices. Toast until crispy.
  4. Arrange the toasted pieces (or crackers) on a plate. Slice the Brie to your desired thickness, and place several pieces on each slice of bread.
  5. Take the bowl of marinated fruit, and place a some figs pieces and blueberries on each slice of bread. Drizzle some additional balsamic over each piece.
  6. When all the fruit is used, drizzle We Olive olive oil over each piece. Sprinkle some additional thyme, marjoram, and pepper on top for presentation.
  7. If you have truffle salt, sprinkle a pinch on each piece.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Peruvian Anticucho Grilling Sauce

Grilling with Peruvian Salsa Anticucho!
It’s a Baste, Marinade and Sauce
by Chef Jamie Woolner

There is a common misconception about health food…people often tell me that it’s bland! Since I am a nutritionist AND a foodie, this wouldn’t be true or I wouldn’t be interested. The key? Spices! I make all sorts of sauces, marinades, and rubs out of spices, peppers, vinegars, and healthy oils. So when I went to a bbq and tried this sauce, I begged the chef to share the recipe! It doubles not only as a baste, but also as a sauce or marinade. I even put it on my potato salad!

There’s no better way to bring in the summer than grilling out! Grilled foGrilling Veggiesod can be a unhealthy disaster, or a great way to add to your daily serving of vegetables! Almost any vegetables, proteins, (and a lot of fruit!) can be transformed after grilling. Get creative! I’ve  grilled slices of white squash, zucchini, tomatoes, tempeh, asparagus, and portabellas. I’ve even had things like peaches on the grill! So remember, vegetables don’t have to be boring. Spices can be healthy, too!

-Makes about 2 Cups-

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs          Aji Amerillo Puree (Peruvian Yellow Pepper)*
    *Substitute: 2 yellow bell peppers, boiled in vinegar and water until soft and pureed w/ a half teaspoon of cayenne
  •  6 Tbs         Aji Panca Puree (Peruvian Sundried chili)**
    **Substitute: 1 Tablespoon of Chipotle adobo Puree w/ 3 red bell peppers boiled in vinegar and water until soft and pureed
  • 2 Tbs          Soy Sauce
  • 1 Clove      Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 3 Tbs          Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs          Red Wine Vinegar
  • 4 Tbs          Lager Beer or Lighter Colored Beer (I used Heineken)
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste
  •     ½ Cup        Olive Oil
  •      1 Tbs         Cumin
  •      1 Tbs         Oregano Flakes or 1.5 tsp Oregano powder
  1. Heat up your grill.
  2. Add all ingredients into a large bowl (except for salt, pepper, and olive oil) and whisk to combine.
  3. Add olive oil as a slow stream while whisking.
  4. Season w/ salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Get a basting brush or a spoon and set the Anticucho next to your grill.
  6. Take any items that you want grilled, cut them into equal sized pieces and rub them in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  7. Start grilling. Baste vegetables and proteins on the topside. Flip and baste the other side. When the item is cooked, give it a final baste.

Note: if you choose to grill meat, get a separate container and brush for the finishing antichucho sauce.

So enjoy, and happy grilling!

Chef JamiChef Jamie Woolnere Woolner studied culinary arts at The Art Institute of California. He has cooked in many restaurants making Japanese, Latin, Italian, and American cuisine. Currently he owns and operates Pizza of Venice, CA, where he supplies events and restaurants with custom pizzas. You can find his company on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pizza-of-Venice-CA/308622362552449

Gluten-Free Chocolate Banana Protein Muffins

In my ever present search for easy recipes, I stumbled upon these delicious gluten-free muffins. But these aren’t your average muffins, filled with sugar and simple carbohydrates, creating a blood sugar spike and leaving you hungry for more. These muffins are a meal! Bake up a big batch or two (or three), and you have easy, on-the-go mini meals, filled with complex carbs, good fats, and protein to keep you full for hours! As with all recipes, the ingredients listed below function as a base. Experiment to your heart’s content!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 cup Oat Flour
  • 1/4 cup Amaranth Flour
  • 1 cup Egg Whites/Eggs (I use 1/2 cup each, feel free to use whatever ratio your prefer or what you have on hand)
  • 7 to 8oz Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Ripe Bananas
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp Cacao (Chocolate) Powder
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Preparation:

  • 1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Coat silicone muffin cups or muffin pan with olive oil so as not to stick.
  • 2. In a large bowl, mash bananas into a paste. I like them a little chunky for texture.
  • 3. Mix all remaining ingredients into the bowl until a smooth consistency is reached.
  • 4. Spoon mixture into muffin cups/muffin pan.
  • 5. Bake in oven approximately 15-17 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and eat!

Thinking about going gluten free? Or not sure what gluten is? Check out this article!

Orange-Roasted Tofu with Asparagus

Finding quick, easy, and healthy recipes that you can make over and over is an essential to optimal health. This recipe was suggested by a client of mine, and is an absolute breeze to make! Preparation time is negligible, just pop it in the oven and dig in! As with many recipes, the recipe itself can serve as a base. Always feel free to add extra ingredients that suit your own pallet.

This is an excellent recipe for the season, as asparagus is just luscious in the spring! I’ll have an article soon on all the benefits asparagus yields.

*This recipe is adapted from the EatingWell Cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • 1 14-oz package extra-firm tofu (Organic if possible, non-gmo if not)
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Miso
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Pound Asparagus, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh Basil (1-2 Tablespoon dry if not fresh)
  • 1 Teaspoon Orange Zest
  • 1/4 cup Orange Juice (freshly squeezed if possible)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • (Optional) 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • (Optional) 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
  • (Optional) Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • (Optional) 1 Teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil

Preparation:

  • 1. Preheat oven to 450˚F. Coat a large baking sheet or baking dish with olive oil (coconut oil optional).
  • 2. Cut Tofu into 1/2 inch cubes, then pat dry. Mix 1 tablespoon miso, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl until a smooth consistency. Optionally, mix cayenne pepper and/or red chili flakes with this mixture if you prefer a much spicier variation (if you would like less heat from the spices, mix spices in step 3 instead). Toss and coat mixture over tofu. Spread tofu evenly over baking sheet/dish, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and toss asparagus with tofu; roast for an additional 10-12 minutes, until tofu is golden brown and asparagus is tender.
  • 3. While tofu and asparagus are roasting, mix remaining tablespoon of miso, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, basil, orange zest, orange juice, and optional cayenne pepper/chili flakes in a large bowl until smooth. Remove tofu and asparagus from oven and toss with remaining mixture. Optionally, add an additional 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil for extra flavor. Add freshly grand black pepper to taste. Let sit for a few minutes to cool. Serve, and enjoy!

This recipe makes an excellent main dish, so feel free to serve with whatever you may like as a side – rice, quinoa, extra vegetables – eat it alone, or even double the recipe! Makes 3 servings.

Sunflower Cake: Gluten Free, Grain Free, and Delicious!

This is quite an amazing recipe; it simply stunned me to have a great dessert that is not only gluten-free, but has no grains whatsoever! I first experimented with this recipe for a small get-together, and it was a huge hit! Not only is it loaded with nutrition from all the wonderful ingredients (especially those sunflower seeds!), but it’s quick and very easy to make. I’m not much of a baker, but with this recipe’s flavor and ease, it’s now been added to my weekly repertoire.

Amazing Sunflower Cake!

Below is the basic recipe for the cake. The basic recipe serves as a base that can easily be used for other recipes, or that can easily be varied. Try cutting some of the maple syrup or honey, or even utilizing one or two bananas instead, to reduce the sugar and create more of a ‘bread’ for more everyday use. Consider adding a can of pureed pumpkin (or fresh if it’s the season) and an extra egg to create Pumpkin Sunflower Cake. If you’re going dairy free, you can even use all coconut oil instead of butter! There are numerous possibilities that are waiting to be found with this recipe!

*This recipe is adapted from the Internal Bliss GAPS Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • Sunflower Cake2 1/2 cups soaked Sunflower Seeds (soak at least 4 hours, better if overnight, strain seeds but allow them to be damp)
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Butter (or all Coconut Oil)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey
  • 3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1.5 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 2 Teaspoons Nutmeg
  • 2 Teaspoons ground Ginger

Preparation:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a blender or food processor, grind sunflower seeds in batches until they form a paste.
  3. In a mixing bowl or in blender/food processor, mix all ingredients until well mixed.
  4. Grease a 9 inch baking dish or cake pan with coconut oil, and pour in mixture.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool, cut, and serve!

This cake is great warm, room temperature, or cold! Serve with fresh fruit, coconut cream, ice cream, or alone! Makes 12-16 servings.

Sunflower Cake

Hot and Sour Miso Soup

This is the perfect recipe to try on chilly winter nights. There are several elements that make this recipe a healing nutritional powerhouse. The apple cider vinegar and miso contain beneficial bacteria, which feed your digestive flora and can heighten your immune system. In addition, the lemons and vegetables provide loads of Vitamin C, fiber, and other micronutrients. The lemons are also very alkaline.

In Chinese Medicine, they believe in a “balance” between all elements. During cold months, we can get an excess of “cold” chi, leading to imbalance and potentially illness. The chilies, miso, and temperature of this soup increase circulation and promote heat.

If that isn’t enough for you, this recipe is gluten free, dairy free, and vegan! (It can even be soy free if you replace the soy sauce with sea salt.) Can you ask for anything more? Not only that, you can use whatever vegetables you have “lying around.” As long as it’s not too sweet a vegetable, I often use whatever I have in the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (wheat free)
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup miso (red or brown, raw)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 fresh Thai chilies (dried chilies of another kind work fine as well)
  • Veggies! The soup can include: Daikon/radishes, dark greens (kale/chard/spinach), shitake (fresh or dried), bamboo shoots, celery, oyster mushrooms, celery, cabbage, turnips, etc.
  • Optional-If I want some more protein, I use silken or firm tofu.
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (available at Thai markets, or online.)

Preparation:

Bring 6 ½ cups water to boil. (Adding some salt and covering tSoup!he pot will speed up the process.) Once the water is boiling, add the chilies and kaffir lime leaves (if you have them.) Have your vegetables chopped ahead of time. Add the most dense and starchy vegetables first, (turnips, carrots, daikon), and tofu. After about 5-7 minutes, add the less dense vegetables, (mushrooms, bamboo, celery, cabbage, etc.). After another 2 minutes, add the leafy greens, the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and soy sauce. After 1 minute, turn down to simmer.

In a small bowl, pour warm water (not boiling, we don’t want to kill the good bacteria) in with the miso paste. Wisk the miso until it is creamy and mixed in. Once the soup is cooler than boiling, pour in the miso and mix. Then serve. Makes about 5 servings.

*Cooking time varies based on vegetables used. Vegetables that are denser and starchier have a longer cooking time. Stop when vegetables are slightly under-done, as they will continue to cook in the pot and bowl.

Soup!