Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 59: Thanksgiving in March

Pumpkin pie is widely known as the traditional favorite dessert on the American Thanksgiving holiday. However, who says it has to be reserved for November? I personally love pumpkin--toasting the seeds, using it in a pie for dessert AND as I experimented a few nights ago, in a dinner pie. Since I'm trying the South Beach Diet for the next couple weeks, I've been trying to come up with creative ways to tackle not eating any complex carbs and actually, catering to my gluten-free sister does help a lot, but I can't even have quinoa or rice in this first phase, so I gladly used a nutty bean crust with the savory filling that not only included the pumpkin, but also some spaghetti squash and peas. Spaghetti squash is amazing because not only can you eat it like regular spaghetti, which I'll be a recipe for as well, but you don't have to feel as guilty about consuming the hearty vegetable. It's also another cheaper alternative to my beloved gluten-free tofu noodles which, although are healthy, are kind of expensive and not practical on my budget when used to often. Anyway, enjoy these delicious guilt-free treats and happy dieting--although these recipes will make it a whole easier and should definitely be added to your salubrious diet, not just for dieting purposes.

Mini Savory Pumpkin Vegetable Tarts
Makes about 8 mini tarts

Teriyaki Gluten-free Crust:
Makes 8 mini crusts

1/3 c. sprouted sunflower seeds (I used Kaia Foods teriyaki flavor)
¼ c. almond meal/flour
¼ c. sesame seeds
1/3 c. walnuts
1/3 c. garbanzo bean flour
1 tbsp flax powder
2 tbsp low-sodium vegetable broth
4-5 tbsp chilled vegan buttery spread or margarine
2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (optional)

Savory Pumpkin Veggie Filling:
Makes about 4 cups

1 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. frozen peas
1 c. spaghetti squash
1 tsp flax powder
1 tsp guar gum
¾ c.  c. low-fat silken tofu
1 tsp gluten-free teriyaki marinade (San J brand)
½ tsp seafood seasoning
½ tsp dried marjoram

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and a muffin tin with 8 aluminum cupcake liners.
2) To prepare the crusts, sift together the flours with the flax powder and mix in the sesame seeds.
3) In a food processor, grind up the sunflower seeds and the walnuts and then combine with the flour mixture.
4) Add the vegetable broth and almond milk and whisk together until the mixture becomes crumbly.
5) Mash the vegan buttery spread or margarine with a fork until the mixture forms a soft ball of dough.
6) Lightly grease the muffin tins with Pam olive oil and then spoon in the dough, using your fingers to form a crust within the muffin cups.
7) Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes--until the crusts looked slightly browned.
8) Meanwhile, defrost the peas in the microwave and use your fork to mash them together or grind in a food processor until smooth.
9) To cook the spaghetti squash, use a knife to create some slits into the rind of the squash and in a medium bowl, bake in the microwave on high for about 12 minutes and then leave it to cool while you prepare the rest of the filling.
10) Beat together the pumpkin and mashed peas in a large bowl with the silken tofu, flax powder, guar gum, teriyaki sauce and spices.  
11) Cut open the spaghetti squash, careful not to cut yourself or burn yourself. 
12) Scoops out the guts along with the seeds and try separating the seeds with a fork to reserve for toasting later--yes, you can toast spaghetti squash seeds like you would for pumpkin seeds!
13) Add in 1 cup of spaghetti squash into the filling and mix in with a spatula or large fork.
14) By now, the crusts should be pre-baked, so remove the muffin tin from the oven and spoon in the filling into each muffin cup. 
15) Sprinkle some additional sesame seeds on top for a toasted garnish and bake the mini tarts for about 35-40 minutes. 
16) Turn off the oven and keep the tarts inside to cool down before serving.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Gluten-Free Cheesy Pesto Spaghetti
Makes 1 serving

1 c. cooked spaghetti squash
1/8 block of extra-firm tofu
1/4 c. grated lactose-free cheddar cheese
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp vegan pesto sauce
1 slice sun-dried tomato
1 handful arugula
oregano and red pepper flakes for garnish

1) Thinly slice the tofu with a knife to 1/8" slices (like sliced cheese).
2) Chop the sun-dried tomato slice into small pieces.
3) Top the spaghetti squash with the tofu slices, followed by the pesto sauce and grated cheese.
4) Rinse off the the arugula and arrange around the squash mixture.
5) Top the whole thing with the sun-dried tomato and Parmesan cheese and g
arnish with some ground oregano and red pepper flakes.
6 Heat up spaghetti in the microwave on high for 1 minute and serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

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