For most people, Halloween is synonymous with sugary indulgence. From handfuls of candy to haunted cakes, most people completely abandon their ideas about healthy eating. The very mention of vegetables on this sinfully sweet holiday is almost unheard of.
Spooky sweets shouldn’t get to have all the fun. With a plethora of shapes, textures, and colors, vegetables have wonderful potential to get a Halloween make over as well. This dish will make a wonderfully unexpected addition to any Halloween party spread. Plus the savory vegetables will help balance whatever sweets you are sure to consume as the evening progresses.
These eggplants have garlic to ward off any vampires (if that isn’t your intent for the evening, be sure to grab a stick of gum or some handful junior mints) while the onions make surprisingly convincing guts and the tomatoes give the appearance of blood.
This is a traditional Turkish dish that is perfect for any occasion, spooky intentions aside. It is perfectly salty and spicy and fresh all at once. Add some beans or beef crumbles into the filling and you have a complete meal.
I used fresh basil, thyme, and oregano in this dish because here in sunny California, my herb plants are still thriving, but feel free to substitute dried herbs or use different herbs altogether depending on what you have access to.
Blood and Guts Stuffed Eggplant
Adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen
- 5-6 long, purple Chinese or Japanese eggplants (leave the ends in tact, don’t remove the stems)
- 5-6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 12 large, whole cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced latitudinally
- 1 large onion sliced into very thin, half-moon style slices
- 1 Bell Pepper
- 1 spicy pepper (like Fresno Pepper or Anaheim Pepper)
- 2 large tomatoes, finely diced
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, julienned
- 1/3 cup oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons thyme
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 large tomato, grated (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel the eggplants in stripes, leaving about half of the purple skin on the eggplant. Generously salt the exterior of the eggplant to make it less bitter, and set aside for 45 min (don’t worry, you’ll wash it off later).
- Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in a deep sauté pan. Add onions, garlic, and peppers. Stir frequently to prevent browning. Continue to sauté the vegetables until the onions become transparent. Stir frequently to prevent browning of onions and garlic.
- After onions are cooked, add the finely diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper into the sauté pan. Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the vegetable mixture from heat and allow it to cool.
- Wash the eggplants, dry. Heat the remaining 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan (preferably nonstick, if not you may need to add more oil), and lightly brown the eggplants on each side for 1-2 minutes. Set the eggplants in a baking dish to cool.
- Cut an opening slit through the middle of each eggplant, being careful not to cut all the way through the eggplant. Use your fingers to expand the opening slightly, so that there is a little pocket in the middle of the eggplant.
- Stuff the pockets of the eggplants with the tomato-onion filling, equally divide the filling among the five eggplants. Season with a little more salt and pepper to taste.
- Top the eggplants with the grated tomato into the baking pan,if desired. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, then make several slits on the foil to let the steam escape while baking.
- Bake the eggplants for 45 minutes or until the eggplants are soft and fully cooked.
Fell free to dress up your eggplants with any spooky props from the party store. Fake bugs could be a fun added touch!
With the arrival of October, Fall is really here. ALthough the blogosphere seems to be flooded with pumpkin and squash, I still want to hold onto my favorite orange produce for a little while longer.
I am relishing in the late-season varieties of peaches for as long as I possibly can. Nothing makes me relive wonderful summer memories like the sweet, juicy flavor of ripe peaches. Even as the temperature starts to cool down, I am determined to keep relishing in this simple pleasure.
That’s how these muffins came about. Packed with quinoa, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, and giant hunks of peach, these muffins are as good for you as they are tasty. No, they aren’t light and fluffy, instead they are packed full of nutrients.
When microwaved for 30 seconds and served with a warm cup of tea or coffee, they make the perfect easy breakfast or afternoon snack.
Go ahead and make a second batch and stash them in the freezer so that you can continue to enjoy delicious summer produce even in the monotonous months when apples and oranges are the only fresh fruits to be found.
Peach Muffins with Chia and Hemp Seeds
Adapted from Get Natured
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 2/3 cup quinoa flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 3/4 cup skim milk, room temperature
- 2 large peaches, finely chopped (leave the peel on for extra fiber)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with silicone liners.
- Whisk together chia seeds and warm water in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Mix in the hemp seeds, then set aside.
- To the chia seed mixture, add milk, brown sugar, coconut oil, and extracts and combine well. Add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine-don’t overmix. Gently fold in the peaches.
- Spoon batter into muffin pan and smooth their tops with the back of a spoon. Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes.
- When a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean and the muffins are golden brown, remove the muffins from oven and transfer them to cooling racks.
This past weekend, the weather was in the 90s! It may be mid-September, but apparently Southern California hasn’t quite gotten the memo. Well that’s just too bad because I’m ready for cozy sweaters, cuddling up to loved ones to stay warm on long walks, and savoring my first pumpkin spice latte of the season.
While changing the weather is beyond my control, I still managed to evoke some feelings of fall with this delicious salad. It’s the perfect transition food because it has both the lightness of summer salads and the comfort of winter squash.
The colors of this salad really make it a party in your mouth with hot pink pomegranate arils, orange cubes of butternut squash, bright green kale, and taupe colored pumpkin seeds.
This salad was so good that I ate the leftovers for lunch and then again for dinner the very next day!
Fall Cleansing Salad
Adapted From Free People BLDG Blog
- 1 Butternut squash
- 1 Pomegranate, seeded
- ½ Cup of sunflower seeds
- 2 Bunches of dinosaur kale
- ½ Lemon
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 Teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon pepper
- 3 Tablespoons balsamic or apple cider vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil (1 tablespoon for squash and 2 tablespoons for dressing)
- Preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Peel and cube the butternut squash, then toss it in a bowl with oil, and spread it out on the baking sheet. Roast the butternut squash for about 25 minutes, or until tender.
- While the squash is cooking, seed the pomegranate, and chop the kale. Place the kale into a large bowl, squeeze the lemon over it, and sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt, then mix it all up. This helps the kale to start softening a bit.
- Allow the squash to cool for about ten minutes after it comes out of the oven, and then mix it with the pumpkin seeds, pomegranate arils, and kale.
- In a small bowl beat together the mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar, and remaining oil. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and serve!
There is nothing that I love more than strolling through my local farmer’s market on warm summer mornings with my family and sampling the delectable varieties of peaches, plums, plots, and nectarines that the farmers display with such pride. All year I wait for the mouth-watering stone fruits to arrive, and when they finally do I take it upon myself to see how many of the juicy beauties I can eat before they disappear once more.
Now that Labor day has come and gone, summer is officially starting to come to an end. This recipe is the perfect way to savor the delicious summer berries and stone fruits before it’s too late.
Because the fruits are at their sweetest and most succulent, they do most of the work for you. Simply chop up the fruits and toss together some sugar, flour, butter, and spice and bake!
As you can probably tell by the amount of fruit this recipe calls for, it feeds a crowd. Feel free to cut the entire recipe in half for a reasonable 9 inch by 9 inch crisp, or make the whole thing and freeze the leftovers so that you can lavish in the sweetness of summer even a few months down the road.
End of Summer Strawberry Peach Crisp
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Serves: Many (about 12-18 depending on how hungry your guests are)
- Fruit filling
- 4 white peaches
- 8 yellow peaches
- 3 pounds of strawberries (about 3 pints)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup call purpose flour
- 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) softened butter (or substitute coconut butter if you prefer)
- Preheat oven to 350°F, then butter a 9″ x 13″ glass or cermanic baking dish.
- Whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt.
- Toss the flour mixture with the peaches, strawberries, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract. Then spoon the filling into the prepared pan.
- Use a fork to combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, and spices, then mixing in the soft butter until the mixture is crumbly.
- Sprinkle the topping over the fruit mixture, shaking the pan to distribute it evenly.
- Bake the crisp for about 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven, and cool briefly before serving.
***the topping makes more than needed for a 9 by 13 inch dish, so make only half a batch, or use the extra crumble on top of oatmeal, ice cream, yogurt, muffins, or other fruit
In June and even in July, summer seems like an endless stretch of time to cross items off your to do list, see people whom you don’t see often enough, and simply to relax. But as August starts to rear its ugly head, reality hits and you suddenly realize that the lofty plans you made for the summer will just have to wait some more. School and cold weather are just around the corner and no matter how tempting it may be to bury your books under your bed and forget about them, there’s no way to ignore rapidly approaching fall.
Rather than wallow in remorse over unaccomplished summer hopes and goals, focus on the exciting aspects of fall. This means that it’s almost close enough to Halloween that you can start planning your elaborate costume without sounding like a crazy person. This means it’s time to go shopping for new coats, boots, sweaters, or school supplies. This means that it’s gradually becoming time to resume your normal schedule of cozy nights indoors that your mind and body will appreciate even if you do not. And most importantly (for me at least) this means it’s starting to cool back down enough to turn back on the oven and stove to cook tasty, heart-warming meals and goodies.
Instead of resenting or resisting the passing of summer, set an example for those in your life who may not quite be ready for the change of the seasons by baking them tasty goodies to celebrate the best of summer produce in a form that is perfect for hectic fall mornings. By that I mean, bake them these Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins, of course!
While these muffins are not exactly for picky eaters, they are delicious and nutritious, the perfect way to quell any chocolate cravings first thing in the morning while still getting in some veggies too. These muffins rely on shredded zucchini and applesauce to keep them nice and moist without the addition of any butter or oil.
Back to School Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins
Yield: 18-20 muffins
Adapted from From the Little Yellow Kitchen
- 2 cups shredded zucchini, shredded
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup quinoa flour
- 1/3 cup sugar, rounded (or add 2/3 cup for sweeter, more traditional muffins)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 15 large strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups), chopped, plus 5 more, sliced for garnish
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or you can chop up 1 bar of dark chocolate into tiny pieces-I had some left over from s’mores, so that’s what i did)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffins tins with silicone baking cups. Muffin batter sticks to paper liners too much, so invest in a few sets of silicone liners to avoid eating paper and cut down on waste.
- Coarsely grate the zucchini, then place in a colander and sprinkle it with a pinch of salt. Let it sit for about 10 minutes while combing the other ingredients to leach out the excess water from the zucchini.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the applesauce and yogurt, and stir well.
- Use paper towels to gently press the zucchini in the colander so that it releases any remaining excess liquid. Add the zucchini to the wet mixture and stir.
- Use your hands to form a well in the center of the dry mixture, then pour the wet mixture into the well. Stir until just combined. Fold in the strawberries and chocolate chips.
- Fill each baking cup about 3/4 full, then gently press a strawberry slice into the top of each muffin.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the muffins to cool on cooling racks, then keep them refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze them for a quick and easy breakfast or afternoon snack.
I always count down the days until my favorite summer fruits starts to flood the farmer’s market stands. Oranges and apples are nice, but nothing can beat the taste of a ripe mid-summer peach or a juicy pint of strawberries. They are delicious in compotes, pies, jams, or tarts but I think that they are best eaten plain.
So often people feel entitled (myself far too often included) to a sugar-packed treat after dinner or even after lunch. However, when fresh fruits are so sweet and delectable, there’s no need to turn to goodies with added sugar because fruit tastes even better. Fruit takes less time to prepare, is far healthier, tastes better, and can be even prettier than any baked treat.
The next time you’re entertaining and need a fun way to end the meal, give this fruity basket a try. Its cute presentation will thrill kids and adults alike!
Summer Fruit Watermelon Basket
Adapted from the National Watermelon Promotion Board
- 1 pint of blueberries
- 1 pint of raspberries
- 1 pint of strawberries
- 1 large seedless watermelon
- Cutting board
- Kitchen and paring knives
- Nontoxic green dry erase marker
- thin rope or ribbon
- Large bowl and spoon
- Melon baller
- cookie cutters in hearts, stars, and other fun shapes
- Rinse strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Cut the strawberries in half and set all berries aside.
- Wash watermelon and pat dry.
- Place the watermelon on its side and cut off the bottom 1/4 to 1/2 inch so it can stand up flat. Make sure not to cut too deep into the white part of the rind so that the liquid doesn’t leak from bottom of the melon.
- Stand the watermelon on its cut end then use the dry erase marker to draw a line about 1/3 of the way down from the top, around the whole watermelon. Use the rope or ribbon to make sure that you make a smooth line going around the melon.
- Pick a point on the line and find the corresponding point on the exact opposite side of the watermelon. From those points measure 1 inch to the right and to the left. Connect those points by using the rope to draw two parallel lines across the top forming the handle.
- Use the paring knife to cut along the horizontal line and two vertical lines. Go very slowly with gentle force so as not to break or crack handle. For best results, hold paring knife like a pen, but only cut half way into rind. Once you complete that first cut all the way around, go back and cut the rest of the way through the rind. Doing the cut in two steps will ensure a cleaner line and smoother cuts.
- Make a cut around the inside perimeter and carefully remove the trimmed rind and flesh. Try to remove as much as possible in large portions that can later be sliced and used with the cookie cutters.
- Scoop out remaining flesh from base, trying to leave as much flesh intact. Remove it in larger pieces that can be used for making watermelon balls or bite-sized chunks.
- Using cookie cutters, cut shapes from watermelon. Se the shapes aside on a paper towel to drain.
- Use the melon baller to scoop out balls of watermelon.
- Then use a large spoon to remove any unsalvageable watermelon and puree it and mix it with lemonade or freeze it to make popsicles.
- Start filling the carved out melon with a mixture of watermelon and berries from the first step. Make sure to save the fruit cut outs for the top of the melon.
- Arrange any remaining fruit around the perimeter of the melon.
- Optional: Use a shovel or cake mix sand to create a beachy vibe.