Thursday, October 27, 2011

Delicata Squash Muffins

Featured Ingredient: Delicata Squash

If you only turn to butternut or acorn squash for your winter squash fix this time of year, boy are you missing out. Attractively adorned with green stripes, Tabi and I became smitten with this gourd last winter for a number of reasons:

It tends to come in smaller sizes than other winter squash making it easier to handle and better suited for families of two like us.

Like butternut, it’s blissfully naturally sweet. There texture is actually a little creamier.

When sliced and roasted, you can leave the peel on and eat it. That’s right, the thin skin is edible! Peeling winter squash like butternut can be a big pain.

Similar to other winter squash, delicata is very versatile in that it can be added to roasted vegetable medleys, green salads, pizza, soups, stews and baked goods such as these muffins that we have my muffin loving partner to thank for.

The delicate squash puree lends these muffins a subtle earthy sweetness that pairs beautifully with whole grains like quinoa flour and maple syrup. I actually found the flavor improved after a day or two. If you don’t have quinoa flour handy, simply use all whole wheat pastry.

Anybody else loving this squash??

Delicata Squash Muffins

1 medium sized delicate squash

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup quinoa flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup delicate squash puree

¼ cup oil of choice

2 large eggs

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar or other sugar of choice

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup walnut pieces

Slice 1 medium sized delicate squash in half and scoop out the seeds. At this point you can lightly coat the flesh in oil and roast at 400 degrees F on a baking sheet until tender or slice into segments and steam until tender. The latter is what we did. Scrap away the flesh from the skin and mash with a fork.

Preheat oven (or reduced oven temp if you roasted the squash) to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, combine squash puree, oil, eggs, sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently. Fold in walnuts. Divide muffins among 12 greased muffin cups and bake for about 18 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wok Star

It’s such a shame that for the most part Chinese food has been bastardized in North America. When prepared traditionally, real Chinese food is incredibly flavorful, light in calories and surprisingly easy to put together. I had a lot of fun overhauling five popular Chinese dishes for this feature article in the October issue of Alive magazine. After I am finished making the bounty of recipes for my upcoming book, I definitely plan on revisiting these.

Sweet and Sour Tofu

Wonton Soup

Orange Chicken

Chicken Chow Mein

Egg Fried Rice

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Breast Cancer Fighting Foods

Hey ladies, why eat plenty of mushrooms, blueberries and walnuts? As my article in the October issue of Best Health magazine shows, these are among the best foods to slash your risk for breast cancer.

Plus, try these three breast cancer fighting recipes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Amaranth Chocolate Crisps

Featured Ingredient: Amaranth

This is the first time amaranth has been featured on Muffin Tin Mania. What a shame!

While quinoa is all the rage among gluten-free grains, amaranth possesses some serious nutritional prowess as well. A cup serving is packed with fiber, protein, iron, selenium and magnesium. Though often under consumed, magnesium has been found to help slash the risk of type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. Similar to quinoa, the protein in amaranth is considered to be complete making it a valuable protein source for both vegetarians and meatarians. I’ve never had the chance to try amaranth greens, but I would like to someday.

You can prepare amaranth like you would other grains by simmering in liquid or you can also pop it like popcorn.

I’ve done this before to make a fanciful cereal. It also works well to make crispy chocolate bites. These are seriously dangerous to have around the house as it’s hard to stop at just one a day. At least they are full of nutritional goodness. I highly recommend adorning them with a whisper of salt for the complete package.  

Chocolate Amaranth Crisps

3 tablespoons amaranth
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Cayenne or chili powder (optional)
Fleur de Sel (optional)

Heat a medium sized pan over medium-high heat. When a drop of water energetically sizzles in the pan, add in 1 tablespoon amaranth (don’t add more!), cover with a lid and as soon as the popping begins vigorously shake the pan until most of the amaranth has popped, about 10 to 15 seconds. If amaranth burns, try shaking the pot about 1-inch off of the heat element as the popping occurs. You also may need to reduce the heat. After a couple times you’ll get the hang of it so have some extra amaranth on hand for failed batches. Remove amaranth from the pot to a bowl and repeat with remaining grain.  

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of very lightly simmering water, stirring often. Or microwave chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 20 to 30 second increments, stirring after each interval until everything is melted.  

Stir 6 to 8 tablespoons popped amaranth into the melted chocolate along with cayenne or chili powder if using. Divide mixture among 12 mini sized muffin cups and sprinkle each with Fleur de sel. Place in the refrigerator until set, about 1hour.