Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

 

As pumpkin season comes to a close, I’m squeezing in all those recipes I ambitiously jotted down just as the leaves began to change. The leaves have found their way to the pavement and I’m soon calling it quits on fall flavors. Christmas decorations began creeping in weeks ago so Thanksgiving is the absolute cut-off.

At my Granny’s house, there is a tradition of dessert assortment that puts any extravagant cruise ship buffet to shame. Two tables covered in desserts. It’s not Thanksgiving without 14 pies – fruit, chess and creme topped with meringue, 3 cheese cakes, pralines and bread pudding with two sweet sauces. No wonder I had an eating disorder. It’s impossible to say no to all that sugar. Sugar is my worst best friend. If it’s in front of me, it taunts me, calling my name, causing a battle between my best intentions and desires. And sometimes you just have to eat the sugar. I find when I allow myself to give into the temptations I’m much happier and my body relaxes.Pumpkin Creme Brulee

So every year I indulge in the sugar. And I wanted to create a dessert that falls into my dietary guidelines. This creme brûlée is actually healthy, filled with eggs, coconut milk and pumpkin. You have a good mix of protein, carbs and fat. If you can bear to omit the maple syrup, this would be a great breakfast too. But that would be sinful on Thanksgiving.

Remember to save room for sugar.

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

Makes 4 servings.

4 egg yolks
½ cup pumpkin – canned or fresh
½ cup full fat canned coconut milk
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla
¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp orange zest
⅛ tsp salt
1 tbsp maple sugar – I use Coombs Family Farms brand

►Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
►Beat egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk together well.
►Pour into 4 ramekins, evenly distributing.
►Place ramekins in a baking dish deep enough to meet the lip of the ramekins. Fill the dish halfway with warm water.
►Bake for 25 minutes, until just set in the middle but still jiggling a bit.
►Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
►Before serving, remove from fridge and let sit for 10 minutes. Then sprinkle maple sugar on top of each. Caramelize with a kitchen torch or under a broiler. Serve and dig in! I ate mine in .5 seconds.

This would be fabulous as a pie filling too!

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bread

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bread
Nope, still not burned out on pumpkin. All this pumpkin spice obsession is okay by me. Starbucks created a trend worth buying into and I’m glad it’s branched out to inspire other creations. Like my Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bread!

I baked this up and brought it to a brunch party. When I revealed it was gluten-free, I watched as everyone turned to me in surprise.  They loved it and could not believe something so delicious was healthy. I walked around beaming with pride the rest of the day. This recipe is going in the “win” pile and will be featured on my Thanksgiving dessert list.

Since gluten-free baking is a mad science I thought I would explain the ingredients I use to obtain the right consistency.

Coconut Flour
Coconut Flour is essentially dried coconut that’s been ground into a fine powder. It is made from 100% coconut with no other added ingredients. You can make your own in a food processor if you cannot find the flour locally. But that’s a lot of work, so save yourself the time and buy a bag from Amazon.

Coconut is high in fiber, low in carbohydrates, and full of healthy fats. The saturated fat in coconuts are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It is also shown to boost metabolism. These are the properties of a nutrient-dense food and make it a safe alternative for diabetics.

Tapioca Flour
Tapioca is made from the root of the cassava plant that grows in tropical climates. The root is boiled down, dried and then ground into a flour. It is purely starch and honestly does not contain much nutritional value. Although, it poses no harm either. The problem with most flours and flour substitutes is that they are non-nutritious as well as harm digestion and cause allergic reactions. Tapioca flour is similar to white rice in its nutritional profile. Most people tolerate it well and it provides the extra carbs our bodies need to get the “full” signal to our brains. It gives baked goods that chewy texture we’re accustomed to in traditional cakes and cookies.

Coconut Butter
Coconut butter is a good substitute for dairy butter. So many of us have dairy intolerances, me included, and this offers a way to add fat to a recipe. It has all the same health benefits as coconut flour.

Cacao Butter
Cacao butter is the naturally occurring fat present in cocoa beans. When cacao beans are processed, the butter is extracted from the bean. The fat properties are monounsaturated including oleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid. I use it to give a slight hint of chocolate flavor and richness. You can find it in most health food stores or order from Amazon.

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bread
Resources:

5 Health Benefits of Baking with Coconut Flour
http://www.hungryforchange.tv/article/5-health-benefits-of-baking-with-coconut-flour

Cassava
http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/cassava

Health Benefits of Cacao

18 Impressive Cocoa Benefits

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bread

Makes 1 loaf.

1/2 cup coconut flour – sifted
3/4 cup tapioca flour
2 cups pumpkin puree (learn to make your own here)
1/2 cup coconut butter (make this by food processing 1 cup of shredded coconut)
6 tbsp maple syrup
6 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
1 tsp cacao butter – melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda

Maple Glaze
2 tbsp coconut oil – melted
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

►Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
►Grease a loaf pan or bunt pan with coconut oil.
►In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle for the wet ingredients.
►Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Then add in remaining ingredients, mixing well. Pour into your dry ingredients bowl and stir until just combined.
►Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Test doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle. If it comes out clean, set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
►For the Maples Glaze, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir together.
►Using a fork, poke holes along the top of the bread. Pour the maple glaze over, evenly distributing. Allow to soak into the bread for a few minutes. Slice and serve!

Fall Spice Pumpkin Chili

 Fall Spice Pumpkin Chili

On Sunday, I made my annual trip to the pumpkin patch and we came home with bushels of produce! There are still so many pumpkin recipes in the works and it was perfect inspiration. The best part is that the farm we visited uses organic standards for everything they grow. Hooray for no pesticides in our food!

I created this pumpkin chili recipe in anticipation of chilly fall evenings around the corner. The ingredients are simple and I like to load it up with veggies to up the antioxidant benefits. Pumpkin adds creaminess and also balances out the acidity of the tomatoes.  Since I generally only cook for two, I froze more than half to whip out on a lazy week night. The flavors will only enhance the longer it sits so it’s an excellent freezer meal.In this dish, the pumpkin grabs your attention but the beef is the star of the show. Make sure your beef is the best quality you can buy. You want beef from grass-fed cows, raised humanely. Not only will the flavor be quite different from conventional meat, the nutritional benefits far exceed it. If you’re still on the fence about eating red meat, have no fear and read Chris Kresser’s post, Red Meat: It Does a Body Good!Fall Spice Pumpkin Chili
Grass-fed v. Conventional Beef (Grain-fed)

♦ Grass-fed has 2-5 times more omega 3s.
♦ Grass-fed contains higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which  has potent antioxidant activity.
♦ Cows create Vitamin K2 when they consume grass. Our bodies easily absorb this when we eat beef, which has incredible benefits. K2 is responsible for distributing calcium throughout the body leading to improved bone density.
♦ Grass-fed are typically raised on pasture and under humane practices.
♦ Grass-fed cows receive little to no antibiotics and no growth hormones.
The list of environmental benefits for grass-fed is numerous. NRDC created a Top 10 List.
♦ Conventional farming methods feed cows grain, which they cannot digest. This inability to digest leads to illness and the intake of antibiotics. Beef adds to our over-exposure of antibiotics.
Antibiotics used in food animals can result in resistant Salmonella. A report from the Pew Charitable Trust calls out,  “recognizing that antibiotic resistance is a threat to Americans’ health and economic and national security from within and beyond our borders.”
♦ Beef from conventionally raised cows are more susceptible to E-Coli infection.


Tips for Buying Grass-Fed 

♦ Get to know your local farmers and frequent your farmers market.
♦ Ask your friends to split a cow share with you and invest in a deep freezer.
♦ How to buy and store a side of beef: http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2059/F-3401web.pdf
♦ For sources of grass-fed beef: http://www.grasslandbeef.com/StoreFront.bok
http://www.eatwild.com/PRODUCTS/index.html

♦ How to find a local rancher: http://www.eatwild.com/PRODUCTS/index.html

Resources:

Red Meat It Does a Body Good! http://chriskresser.com/red-meat-it-does-a-body-good

Why Grass Fed Trumps Grain Fed http://chriskresser.com/why-grass-fed-trumps-grain-fed

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations http://www.marksdailyapple.com/concentrated-animal-feeding-operations/#axzz3EhQyWw7t

Why Vitamin K2 is Important and How to Get It http://www.mamanatural.com/why-vitamin-k2-is-important-and-how-to-get-it/

National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic Resistance http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/news/2014/09/25/summary-of-the-national-strategy-for-combating-antibiotic-resistance

Grass Fed Beef and Heart Disease http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/expert-answers/grass-fed-beef/faq-20058059

The Controversy Over Added Hormones in Meat and Dairy http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=90869

Fall Spice Pumpkin Chili

Makes 6 servings.

1.5 lbs grass-fed ground beef
1 medium onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic – minced
3 carrots – chopped
five turnips with greens – chopped
2 tsp salt
4 cups baby heirloom tomatoes – sliced in half
1 cup beef broth
1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder

​1 cup pumpkin puree

►In an 8 quart dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown ground beef for 6 minutes until medium doneness.
►Remove meat from pot with a slotted spoon to leave the fat remaining. Over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in beef fat for 3 minutes. Then add in carrots, turnips, greens and 1 tsp salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring throughout.
►Add tomatoes, beef broth, water, cinnamon, chili powder, and remaining salt. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
►Bring heat to medium-high. Stir in pumpkin and beef, then cook for 8 more minutes.
►Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. Top with mini heirloom tomatoes and a dash of cinnamon.