Cranberry-pear-apple sauce

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Goodness knows that Thanksgiving, my favorite American holiday, would not be complete without cranberry sauce! Unfortunately, most conventional cranberry sauce recipes contain unholy amounts of refined sugar (often to the tune of a whole cup or more per batch!)…well it turns out that really isn’t necessary if you take advantage of the natural sweetness of pears and apples, and the help of some healthier sweeteners such as stevia and/or agave nectar. This sauce has a beautiful magenta color and tart cranberry flavor, mellowed by the vanillla, pear and apple, along with some wonderful classic holiday spices. Serves 6 -8 easily for a holiday meal. Can easily be made several days ahead. Goes great with greek yogurt or cottage cheese, or served alongside your favorite breakfast treated (waffles, pancakes, french toast…). Leftovers can be frozen – keeps up to about 10 days in the fridge.

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Carrot salsa

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Salsa with tortilla chips is one of my favorite snacks, ever. I’ve been tasting lots of creative salsa variations lately, so here’s another one to add to the mix. Carrot works surprisingly well as a stand-in for tomato in salsa, and strikes me as a great any-time-of-year vegetable so you don’t have to settle for mealy, flavorless out of season tomatoes from who knows where. This is a super easy recipe thanks to the magic of the food processor. Makes a pretty and unique appetizer. Also a healthy snack, or a condiment with a Mexican meal. Who doesn’t need a burst of bright orange in their life? This recipe makes enough for 2 people, but can easily be scaled up as needed.

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Apple-peach-pear sauce

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I never outgrew my childhood affinity for applesauce. It is such a ridiculously simple food, and a favorite healthy snack. I am not talking about the oversweetened packaged super-homogenized kind of commerical apple sauce. I was lucky enough to grow up with my mom’s rustic, chunky, delicious homemade apple sauce which she taught me how to make. Here is a multi-fruit version inspired by her recipe, taking advantage of the last peaches of summer that are not quite as glorious and tempting to eat as-is, as were their earlier in the season counterparts. Also a great way to use up those few sad apples in your fridge drawer that might have slightly passed their prime. Delicious hot or cold, and goes beautifully with hot breakfasts (serve it with pancakes, waffles, or french toast, or atop a bowl of oatmeal – or heck, even stirred right in!) or as a cold snack with yogurt, cottage cheese, you name it. Or perhaps a healthy light dessert, if you fancy…super easy recipe, can be easily scaled up or down (this recipe makes about 1.5 pints worth, roughly enough for 4 as a condiment served alongside a breakfast).

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Easy vegan basil pesto

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As promised, here is my pesto recipe post. This is quick and easy to make in the food processor, and is such a handy staple to have in your fridge or freezer.

Heavy, greasy store-bought pesto sauces served over pasta were never my thing. I tended to prefer pesto more as a condiment rather than in a starring recipe role for that reason. Now after figuring out how to make a simple pesto that tastes great without leaving me feeling gross, I will even enjoy it over pasta.

Traditionally, pesto is made with pine nuts, which tend to be pretty expensive. My cousin also recently enlightened me about a phenomenon known as “pine nut syndrome” in which eating pine nuts can cause a bitter or metallic taste to linger in your mouth for up to 2 weeks, making everything you eat taste awful (read more about it here). So I ditched the pine nuts in favor of my new culinary workhorse, raw cashew nuts. They impart a mild, nutty and creamy flavor that works perfectly with the basil, and won’t taint your palate. Give this a try!

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