This week on FMGTV watch Forbes Riley and Dr. Mike as they make an amazingly healthful, incredibly delicious spicy banana catsup!
Warning: Once you have this you will never be able to go back to the bottled stuff on the store shelves!
Link Here: FMGTV Cooking From the Heart
- 1 roasted cooking pumpkin (or other winter squash)
- 1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 quart chicken stock
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 cup onion
- ½ cup celery
- ½ cup carrot
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. white pepper
- 2 Tbs curry powder
Preheat the oven to 350°F. To roast the winter squash remove the stem and seeds. Scrape away any of these stringy pulp. Cut the squash into large sections. Place on a large baking dish rind side down and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper and evenly distribute the pumpkin pie spice. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until fork tender. Remove and allow the squash to cool. Remove the squash from the rind by placing a knife into the flesh of the squash just above the rind and cutting the flesh free. Cut the squash into large, bite-size pieces and place them in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot. Add the onions and cook for several minutes, until softened. Add the carrots and celery and cook for several more minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add the white wine and cook until almost all the liquid is gone. Add the stock and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until about one quarter of the liquid has evaporated. Add the puree and spice; in small batches in a food processor or using an immersion blender puree the entire mixture until creamy and smooth.
Read Dr. Mike’s review of B Cellars in Napa Valley in this month’s Luxuria Lifestyle.
The link is here: Dr. Mike’s Luxuria Lifestyle Article
In case you missed the Halloween special appearance, enjoy this video. While the sweet treats were Halloween themed, the recipe makes some delicious fall flavored desserts perfect for any special occasion this time of year.
Don’t miss this week’s Cooking From the Heart episode with Forbes Riley and Dr. Mike.
Follow the link here: CFtH
I wanted to start off the week, and this post, with a great question from one of our readers.
Ida asked, “Hi Michael! Hope you are well! I was thinking maybe you could do some kind of a special on fish, as I am a bit confused to what fish is really healthy to eat these days, with all the radiation. We are in Sweden and have just decided to stop buying farmed fish from Norway for ethical reasons. I think we get more and more limited to things to eat when we are trying to eat both healthy and ethically. We eat organic food, but when it comes to fish it’s tricky.”
What a great and timely question!
I do not, in general, recommend buying farmed fish. The details and regulations of farming can vary tremendously from country to country . Even within the same country, from producer to producer, things can be quite different. In many situations the process of what they are fed, their level of activity and other variables can significantly effect not only the taste, but the health benefits. Salmon which are farmed are often fed food that does not resemble their natural diet. They may be loaded with antibiotics and other compounds which are necessary to keep the fish alive when they exist in unnaturally cramped and limited spaces. The effect on the fish can resemble what happens to cattle when they’re grain fed and raised in a feedlot versus natural grass fed, pasture raised and free range. In both situations this can cause not only a change in the percentage of fats, but a change in the very types of fats that are found within the food.
I continue to hear conflicting reports on the safety of Pacific fish. Right now, I recommend staying away from all top chain Pacific fish like tuna. It is important to remember, that at least within the United States, unlike meat and poultry inspection for fish and shellfish is actually voluntary. If the fish inspection covers the plant, the product and processing from raw to finished product then it is eligible to receive the circular stamp ” Packed under Federal Inspection ” (PUFI ). Only seafood with this stamp is eligible to be graded ; A, B or C. A is the best quality which means it is free from defects and with little odor . B is good quality , C is fairly good quality. Grades B and C are mostly used in canned and processed seafood items. These inspections do not routinely involve the use of a Geiger counter. These details are covered in much more depth in my book Eating Well, Living Better .
But when you can get some seafood from known sources, indulge! Special “Thanks” to Steve for hooking us up with these beauties! Today’s recipe features some incredibly fresh , locally harvested oysters.
Oysters are often associated with cooler weather and the onset of fall in the United States. This is not due to any particular seasonality. It reflects a time when the oysters could not be safely shipped inland until they could be kept cool. Prior to the advent of modern refrigeration techniques, this meant that outside of the immediate coastal areas they could not be routinely enjoyed until the fall and winter months.
Everything about this recipe reflects simple preparation and allowing the varied and vibrant flavors of fall to speak loudly and sumptuously. The pumpkin was roasted after seasoning with Dr. Mike’s Pumpkin Pie spice blend (page 283 of Eating Well, Living Better). It was then very simply puréed. Some local, just harvested conch peas were just boiled. They were then puréed with a little bit of sweet onion, olive oil and roasted poblano for a smoky, gentle heat. The oysters were prepared by placing them atop a charcoal grill with lots of hickory wood. They deliciously steam in their own brine and were served with just a dab of each purée.
The briny oysters picked up a perfumed, hickory wood flavor from the grill that blended perfectly with the smoky, sweet heat of the poblano and pea purée. The delicate, spiced earthiness of the roasted pumpkin was the perfect counterpoint. Easy, delicious and simply prepared natural fall flavors; a healthful bounty from both land and sea.
This time of year, or any time of holiday and celebration can be challenging from a healthful food aspect. Sweet treats full of empty calories abound everywhere; energy dense nutrient poor choices threaten to overwhelms us. On today’s episode of Daytime TV, Forbes and I tackle the subject with an tasty response. The dessert is so splendiferous, that it begs the question; can this possibly be healthful in any way? As you will see, it is. But before we get to the illustrative example, first some background on how to approach the problem.
This is time of year particular I am asked to give what appears to be conflicting advice. As a cardiologist, I am often asked how we can possibly eat healthfully around the holidays. Is there hope for something beyond limp vegetable sticks and lamely decorated fruit? As a chef, people ask me for recipes featuring some kind of tasty and tantalizing treat. It’s the holidays and everyone feels that they’ve earned at least some kind of decadent dessert. During Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or other times of celebration a dietary program of abstinence, deprivation and despair is hardly conducive to the mood. Just look at Ebenezer Scrooge, the guy couldn’t crack a smile until he had some pudding. People have secured the right to celebrate and to be satisfied. And let’s face the facts, when it comes to a satisfying dessert, that sweet treat means sugar and fat.
The whole discussion on the use of sugar, different kinds of sugars, fats, good fats and bad fats is way beyond the scope of this simple article. It requires a book, and fortunately that will be forthcoming! But in the interim, this constant quandary does give us the opportunity to illustrate how to make and enjoy something that is absolutely, amazingly, delicious AND good for you at the same time.
The first bit of advice is pretty straightforward. Follow these three simple rules:
1. Avoid the call of the junk food siren. It is called junk food for reason; ‘nuff said.
2. Get fresh but no adultery. Create some fresh alternatives to the off-the-shelf, overly processed, prepackaged, artificially preserved and prepared crap. Yes, this means you have to cook something. But by using herbs and spices as the foundation step to add flavors and textures instead of only layers of sugar, salt and fat; it is easy to achieve master chef-like results.
3. Moderation and timing; you can have your cake, you can eat it too – just not the whole damn thing at one time.
The second bit of advice involves determining the quality of our dessert selection. It is okay, even beneficial, to use certain sugars and fats in moderation. The key is in selecting choices that are nutrient dense. The general guideline here is to avoid products that are generally made from only highly refined ingredients. There are two questions to ask here.
- Does our sweet treat have any redeeming value?
- Is it something more than just sugar and fat?
In the case of the following recipe, the answer is a resounding yes. Let’s look at the ingredients.
- Pumpkin: Pumpkin is an outstanding source of potassium, something that is significantly deficient in the average American diet. It is a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber with over 2 ½ g worth per cup. It is wonderful source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin A. It contains a number of different carotenoids such as alpha and beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin. Remember however, that to get the full benefit by absorbing the maximum amount of these carotenoid compounds you need fat. Which brings us to….
- Butter: The butter we use here is the real deal. We want butter from cows that eat what cows are supposed to eat, and that means grass. This type of butter contains the standard fare. It is rich in the fat soluble vitamins vitamin A, D, E and K. About 30% of the fats and butter are monounsaturated, that’s the same type of fat that is believed to be responsible for the beneficial health effects of olive oil consumption. These fats also have valuable antimicrobial activity. There is evidence that some of the medium chain fatty acids can actually act to help us burn storage fat. Fat from grass fed cows also contains significant levels of omega-3 fatty acids. This is the class of healthful, essential fatty acids that are found in such foods as salmon and that people try to incorporate into their diet by taking supplements such as fish oil. Grass fed cows also contain conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) which has been shown to have anticancer properties.
- Eggs: The eggs recommended for this recipe, likewise come from chickens that are allowed to roam freely and eat the things chickens are supposed to eat. Eggs are one of the best sources of protein available. They also contain the essential nutrient, choline. Choline, which helps prevent the lipids associated with the development of atherosclerosis, is found in the yoke of the egg. Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin. They are great source of fifteen different vitamins and vital minerals. When raised correctly, the eggs produced by happy chickens like the butter produced by happy cows, are rich in the important omega-3 fatty acids.
- Brown sugar and maple syrup: Unlike white refined sugar which is simply sucrose and thus energy dense and nutrient poor; brown sugar contains molasses. Molasses is a great source of iron, copper, calcium and manganese; all vital and important minerals. Maple syrup is likewise nutrient dense. It provides a great source of zinc and manganese, as well as a number of other important nutrients.
- Flour: Although you can use standard modern wheat all-purpose flour, this recipe is best utilizing a heritage grain, or ancient grain, known as einkorn (or einka). This has not only significantly less gluten than its modern counterpart, but the gluten is significantly different in construction from the gluten derived from modern wheat. As such, it is possibly much less irritating to those who suffer from gluten intolerance. Regardless, it is a great alternative to those looking to decrease their daily consumption of modern wheat gluten.
- Spices: The pumpkin pie spice blend (see Eating Well, Living Better page 283) contains a number of spices with a plethora of healthful benefits. Most importantly, the use of spices sets the foundation for building tastes and textures that go beyond simply catering to a reflexive, innate response to sugar, salt and fat. Combined with the use of fresh, nutrient dense foods it reinvigorates our sense of taste so long buried like hard tack biscuits under lumpy gravy. It restores our delight and wonder at how real food can be really delicious and nutritious.
Along with the spices and the textures found in this dessert we are introducing the concept of fighting fire with fire. Just as a strategically set firebreak can corral the most destructive and out-of-control forest fires, so too the surgical use of sugar, salt and fat as seen in this recipe allows our pleasure buttons to be set at “11″. Contentedly satiated with wholesome, nutrient dense foods in filling (and appropriate) proportion is what we are all about. For those that are concerned about such things (and in the forthcoming book you’ll see why you don’t need to be) each of the little snacks clocks in at around 100 cal.
So for the holidays, and all the days, stay tuned to spice it up for meals that pleasure your senses,enchant your epicurean experience and oh, by the way, leave you happy and healthy.
Pumpkin Maple Rum Dead Man’s Fingers
- 1 stick unsalted, softened butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 Tbs dark rum
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, pine nuts or almonds
- Any dried fruits you like such as cranberries, raisins, etc.
- nonstick fingers or other shape cookie pan
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Using a mixer beat and the butter until smooth. Add the sugar continue to mix until creamed. Add the maple syrup, rum, egg, vanilla and pumpkin. While this mixes, in a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet and continue to mix until well incorporated. Place the pumpkin seeds, pine nuts or almonds in the nail position of the finger molds. Add the dry fruits, if desired. Then add the mixture and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cookie pan from the oven, allow to cool for two minutes and then remove the finished fingers. Makes approximately 36 fingers.
The batter can be used in other molds as well:
Check out some tasty, tantalizing treats for Halloween from Cooking From the Heart! Forbes Riley and myself do some culinary conjuring on Daytime TV tomorrow. Here’s a few behind the scenes peeks. Recipe tomorrow!
Click on the link below to see where and where Daytime airs near you: Daytime TV station guide
Looking for something new?
Have you tried the African spice blend known as Tsire? It is a peanut based aromatic blend of spices with a touch of heat. Watch myself and Forbes Riley transform tofu into something truly exotic and scrumptious.
What speaks more of fall than the flavors of some spiced short ribs braising slowly all day long. The resulting ribs have a crispy flavorful crust and melt in your mouth tender bits. Roasted pumpkin and spices provide an accent as they are gently worked into some creamy risotto; flecked with bits of apple wood bacon. Add a touch of the majestic with a pomegranate gremolata and fall comes home wrapped in smoky, spiced goodness, punctuated with a refreshing texture and blast from the citrus infused gremolata.