I lift weights and/or do CrossFit most weekday mornings. I like to get some nourishing carbohydrates into my belly before I head to the gym: I just love this recipe for Chai Pumpkin Oatmeal.
This oatmeal is a wonderful autumn breakfast no matter what your morning routine is like; it comes from my friend Shelley Alexander‘s book Deliciously Holistic.
Shelley is a holistic chef. She specializes in preparing healthy foods that nourish, strengthen, and energize, and her cookbook contains more than 150 recipes that are as yummy as they are good for you. I have an extra copy of the book to give away…more details on that at the end of this post.
A local restaurant serves a pear and gorgonzola pizza that I love. It was the inspiration for this pear and gorgonzola salad, to which I’ve also added pistachios.
I harbored an intense dislike for strong cheeses like gorgonzola for much of my life. Funny thing: now they are some of my favorites! You know how many times I have decided I did not like a food only to realize later on that I like it quite a lot? MANY.
I think our tastes have the capacity to expand and to change if we keep challenging ourselves to try new things (and to give things we previously eschewed another go). Of course this goes for ideas and experiences, as well: it’s good to be open minded about those, too.
This salad is super adaptable. For an equally delicious fall salad, apples can stand in for the pears. Roasted squash would also be delicious. Raw or toasted pecans, walnuts, or other nuts/seeds may be used in place of the pistachios. If assertive cheeses such as gorgonzola are not your thing at the moment, give this a try with a mild, soft cheese (crumbled goat cheese or feta sounds good to me). But don’t swear off gorgonzola for good…you may find that you’ll come to love it some day in the future, too.
I mentioned the possibility of homemade fig newtons on my facebook page the other day and everyone went a little gaga over the idea. I was a little surprised, to be honest.
I figured nobody really liked fig newtons, you see. When I was a kid, they were the cookie you got in your lunchbox because your parents didn’t want you to eat way-more-yummy-but-not-as-healthy chocolate chip cookies, right? Well, turns out fig newtons didn’t need my sympathies. Plenty of people really do like them after all.
I looked at a bunch of homemade fig bars on various blogs. They were all made with dried figs because actual fig newtons have a dried fig filling. I hope you don’t mind but I made an executive decision to use fresh figs in my filling since I wasn’t hung up on recreating an authentic “newton experience”. I just wanted some great fig bars.
The fig jam on its own is simple to make, and pretty freaking fabulous. If these cookies do not appeal to you, you can just make the jam and use it how you like! I actually made a double batch of the jam a few weeks before I made the cookies, and I’ve been loving it. If you make the recipe as written below, you should have enough for the cookies, plus a little extra.
I made the dough for these bars with Jovial Organic Einkorn Flour. I am a big fan of this flour for baking: it makes delicious treats and I feel really good about using it because it is nutrient dense, has not been hybridized like modern wheat, and contains less gluten. Feel free to use unbleached, all-purpose flour instead, if you like.
A couple of notes about the method for making these cookies:
- You’ll want the dough to chill in the refrigerator before you roll it out. If you don’t refrigerate it, it will be too soft and you’ll end up with a mess. On the other hand, you don’t want it to be too stiff because then it may “break” when you work with it…one hour should be enough time for chilling.
- I added quite a bit of extra flour while I was rolling out the dough because I did find it to be a pretty sticky. Flour is your friend: make sure to use it on the rolling pin, too. You may have an easier time rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment, but I didn’t. I did keep a piece of parchment under the dough while I was rolling it, but I flipped the dough and added more flour a few times as I was rolling so that the dough wouldn’t stick. If you have a plastic dough scraper, it will probably come in handy. If your dough end ups sticking/tearing, don’t worry- just patch it up with a little scrap of extra dough trimmed off from the edge. You don’t want the dough too think, but you don’t want it too thin, either (1/8 inch thick is just about right).
- Watch out for adding more filling than your dough can accommodate. The dough is pretty sturdy but you don’t want the jam to bust out during baking…the amount of jam I added down the center of each strip of dough was perfect.
- You will want to use your fingers to gently seal the edges of the dough together after you add the jam. If you don’t seal the dough well enough, the jam will ooze out.
- You will want to roll the dough over so the seam is on the bottom before you slice these into bars. This will help to keep the jam in place.
If you want to make your fig jam without sugar, try this recipe for Honey Fig Jam from Tasty Yummies. If you want to try these cookies with a dried fig jam, here’s a recipe from The Kitchn. For a gluten-free version of fig cookies, try this recipe from The Free People Blog.
Last winter, I heard about a this really cool kickstarter campaign for a book called Foraging & Feasting. The premise of the book: show people how to identify wild edible plants with gorgeous, instructive illustrations, then encourage them to harvest and cook the plants with recipes. I loved the idea of “connecting with nature through food and art”, and I was intrigued by the author’s self publishing model.
A couple of months later, I met the author, Dina Falconi. She lives near me and was teaching a homemade beauty products workshop in our area. I had a wonderful time: Dina is extremely knowledgable about herbs and natural health care. She inspired me to start making more of my own skin care items at home (I’ve been having lots of fun with that), and I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of her new book. I just knew it would be terrific.
Dina recently sent me a copy of the book and it is indeed terrific. Like me, Dina has been influenced by the work of Weston Price and Sally Fallon Morrell, and that influence is seen in her nourishing and delicious recipes (which highlight both foraged and cultivated plants). But this is so much more than a typical cookbook. About half of the book is brimming with information on the arts of foraging, harvesting, and wild plant identification.
The other half is the recipes, which I can’t really do justice in this post. They are beyond creative and so inspirational, and organized into chapters including Beverages, Relishes, Spreads and Condiments, Wild Salads, Soups, Sandwiches, Animal Kingdom Entrees, and Desserts. There are brilliant Master Recipes throughout the book, and Dina gives multiple suggestions for ways you can change up each and every one: this book is seriously so lovely, and it will teach you so much!
I had a hard time choosing which recipe to feature, but when I received a gorgeous box of Palisades Peaches from Aloha organic fruit in Grand Junction, Colorado, I knew peaches simply had to figure in.
I decided to go with this Peach Pie because it allowed the beautiful peaches (they were probably the very best I’ve ever tasted) to shine. I served the pie at a little dinner party and everyone really loved it!
I have met some truly incredible people in the four years since I started blogging: one of them is my friend Melissa Lanz. I first encountered Melissa “virtually” in an online food writing class over a year ago, and in that class, I learned that Melissa is a very talented writer. I’ve since met her in person and know her to be a brilliant businesswomen, as well as a very beautiful person, both inside and out.
Melissa is the founder of The Fresh 20, a meal planning service that focuses on helping busy families eat well, at home, together. The Fresh 20 philosophy revolves around shopping for 20 fresh, seasonal ingredients that you can use to make 5 easy, healthy weeknight meals. Her system can help you not just eat better, but save time, money, and reduce waste, too.
Like I said, Melissa is brilliant. And now she’s also the author of a cookbook!
The Fresh 20: 20-Ingredient Meal Plans for Health and Happiness 5 Nights a Week is a companion to Melissa’s online business, but it’s a fabulous cookbook on its own. She sent me a copy to review and I can’t say enough good things about it: the recipes are great and it is beautifully photographed by her husband, Trent Lanz.
I shopped for and cooked a week’s worth of meals as per the book’s instructions back in June and they were all terrific: this Coconut Curry-Style Fish Soup was one of them.
If you’ve been reading my site for a while, you probably know that I am crazy for soup, and that soups made with coconut milk are a particular favorite of mine. I’ve now happily added this one to my repertoire. I added a handful of minced Thai basil and a minced hot chile pepper (both from my garden) to the recipe to spice it up a bit and found that it’s wonderful both hot and cold, so give it a go even if the weather in your neck of the woods doesn’t necessarily have you thinking about soup yet.
I loved this soup topped with some kimchi, and you can serve it with Asian hot sauce, too, if you like. I recommend giving this recipe for homemade sriracha a try.