Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 113: Sweet and Sour

Anyway, I know some people gravitate towards sweet foods and others crave sour or salty foods, but as an equal opportunist, I don't really have a preference, although when I do cheat on my healthy diet, I do tend to go for the chocolate over the chips. Fortunately for you, I've created some sweet and sour recipes that address each person's preference that will tantalize your taste-buds and give you virtually no guilt as you chow down on this tasty, salubrious food. My mother made some delicious butternut squash kugel for Passover recently, so I made my own twist on that dish as well as creating a new dish inspired by the Mediterranean. 

Vegan Triple Squash Kugel
Makes 6 cups or 10-12 servings

2 c. butternut squash
2 c. spaghetti squash
2 c. canned pumpkin
1 ¼ c. silken tofu
6 tbsp unsalted margarine, melted
1/3 c. stevia/sugar blend
1 c. light coconut milk
1 c. unsweetened almond milk (Almond Breeze vanilla flavored—yes, they make it unsweetened now in other flavors besides the original)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp lemon zest

Crumble Topping:
¼ c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. ground sunflower seeds
¼ c. ground walnuts
¼ c. Chex rice cereal
1 packet raw stevia
2 tbsp unsalted magarine

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a medium casserole dish lightly with Pam Buttery spray.
If you bought a whole squash, you can puncture the shell with a fork and cook it like you would for a baked potato in the microwave on high for about 10-15 minutes, until it is soft when you insert a fork into it. 

3) Let the squash cool down for about five minutes before cutting it because it will be steaming hot and can burn your hands (trust me, I was impatient once and learned my lesson). Once you cut it open, discard the gooey part in the center, using a fork to separate the seeds. *Note: Many people don't realize that you can toast any squash seed like you would for pumpkin seeds, so for an additional topping, save the seeds!

4) If you bought the squash peeled and pre-cut like I did, you can bake it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until it feels soft when inserting a fork into one of the pieces.  
5) Once both squashes are baked, gradually puree them with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor until it becomes smooth. *Note: Since the spaghetti squash looks like strands of spaghetti, like a noodle kugel, you can set it aside and then stir it into the puree like you would for actual noodles for a different texture. I pureed it with the rest of the squash for a smooth, pudding-like consistency, but I think I'm going to try it the other way without pureeing the spaghetti squash next time. 
6) Spoon out the puree into the casserole dish and spread evenly with a spatula. 
7) Melt the margarine in a glass bowl the microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, making sure to cover the top of your bowl with a plate or some sort of cover so it doesn't splatter all over the microwave.
8). Combine the rest of the topping ingredients into another small bowl and pour in the melted margarine to form thick crumbs.
9) Spoon out the crumb topping evenly over the kugel and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until it looks crispy. 
10) I found the best consistency is after you let the kugel sit in the refrigerator for about an hour or two to set before serving, or even overnight as this can be made the day before serving.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Mediterranean Chicken with Olive-Artichoke Tapenade and Garlicky Swiss Chard and Collard Greens
Makes 6 servings

6 small frozen chicken breasts
3 cups Swiss chard
3 cups frozen collard greens
10 Spanish olives + 4 capers and 3 tbsp roasted pimentos (all from the jar)
3 artichoke hearts
1 small onion or 3 shallots
3 stalks cilantro
6 Kalamata olives
4 slices sun-dried tomatoes
1 palm heart
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive juice (from Spanish olive jar)
4 tbsp white Balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar (I used pinot-grigio vinegar)
6 tbsp minced garlic

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Chop Swiss chard into big pieces and set aside with the collard greens.
3) For the tapenade, chop up the olives, cilantro, onion, palm heart and artichoke hearts and set aside.
4) Combine olive juice and lemon juice with the balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp garlic in a small bowl.
5) Make a foil packet, and place the chicken breasts inside, surrounding it with the collard greens and swiss chard.
6) Pour the sauce over the chicken, topping it with the tapenade.
7) Spoon the rest of the minced garlic over the collard greens and Swiss chard.
8) Close foil packet and bake chicken in the oven for 45 minutes.
9) Take chicken out of the oven and open the packet to serve immediately. It can be served over rice or just by itself for a low-carb option.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                                           The Preparation:

                                                           The Results:

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