The Real Food Journal

Playing with Purple Corn in Cornbread, Grits, and Chips!

Purple Cornbread with a Side of Apple Braised Kale

Purple Cornbread with a Side of Apple Braised Kale

It’s funny how you find out about things.

In October I attended a conference of the American Cereal Chemists International. Let’s just call it “grain nerd heaven.” Cereal chemists from all over the world were sharing technology and research, and there was an exhibit hall filled with cool toys, food ingredients, and information. I was strolling through the exhibit hall, taking it all in, when my eyes were drawn to a gloriously colorful display.

It was so striking, I just had to take a picture.

Purple Corn Display at the AACCI Conference

Purple Corn Display at the AACCI Conference

Purple corn. Not blue, but purple.

What’s funny about finding this corn, there, at that moment? Well, among the international, exotic, and high-tech things on display, this corn stood out. It could have been from the moon. I struck up a conversation with the company rep, and asked for some samples of the product to play around with.

It wasn’t until I actually received the samples that I realized that the company growing and marketing the unique corn is based in Stillwater, Minnesota. Just down the road from me. And they have been getting this corn into some products and stores.

And I knew nothing at all about it. Kind of funny.

But now I do. And it’s purple, and delicious.

So, why am I excited about this colorful corn? First thing, it’s not some Franken-corn, it’s a natural, non-GMO variety of corn, developed from varieties of ancient maize. The Suntava people wanted to create a new strain of purple corn that was more disease resistant and easy to grow. To get it going, they had to hand pollinate the plants in the field for a few years, until the Suntava corn was established.

The purple pigment infuses the entire plant, from the stalks to the leaves, creating a dramatic effect. The pigment is so plentiful that the Suntava people have created an extract from it that food manufacturers can use to tint food and amp up the antioxdant content, naturally.

We already had blue corn, so what is the big deal about purple corn? Well, like my previous purple food obsessions, purple sweet potatoes, purple carrots and the almost purple blue potatoes, this purple food is packed with antioxidants. If you’ve been buying blueberries by the bag to puree in your smoothies, you probably know that there are some amazing health benefits to eating deeply colorful food.

The unique, purple antioxidants are called anthocyanins. You probably know that antioxidants get their name for their ability to protect your cells from oxidation, sparing them from premature aging and preventing cell damage. These purple anthocyanins have been studied and found to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, and to be anti-inflammatory.

And that is a good reason to seek it out.

But come on- IT’S PURPLE! Sure, I get a little jazzed when I hear something is good for me, it’s true. But what really gets me going is a new color in my food palette. Eating the rainbow is not just good for you, it looks great on the plate to have bright, intensely colored foods next to one another.

I was excited to give purple corn a trial run, just to see how the pigment would develop in a finished dish.

For a first experiment, I plugged the purple cornmeal into my cornbread recipe, and added some diced apples for a seasonal touch. I wanted to see the colorful cornbread next to some deep greens, so I braised some Tuscan kale with diced apples in apple juice. I left the red peels on the apple pieces, for a little more color contrast.

Purple Cornbread with Apples #antioxidants #vegan #quickrecipe #bread

The other exciting product that I couldn’t wait to try were the purple grits. Now, I am a Minnesotan. I’m about as Northern as it gets, as you can see by the sugar in my cornbread. But I have a deep appreciation for good grits. Not the degerminated, quick-cooking kind, but real, old school grits.

These chunky purple grits are in their own category of old-school, harking back more to something an Andean might have cracked with a stone than something you’d get on the side in a New Orleans restaurant. They are so chunky, you actually need to soak them overnight. After a soak, the still took about an hour to cook.

But look at them, after I stirred in some parmesan and a chunk of butter:

Purple Grits!

Purple Grits!

For fun, I served the technicolor grits to some guests, topped with a fried egg, fried sage leaves, and sauteed grape tomatoes, with garlicky aioli on the side. They were a lovely lavender, flecked with bits of purple corn bran.

With an egg and some fried sage leaves...

With an egg and some fried sage leaves…

On a visit to a local Coop, I came across a bag of chips made from the Suntava Corn, so I went ahead and bought them. how I missed them before, I don’t know. I guess I don’t spend that much time in the chips aisle.

Purple Chips with Cranberry Salsa

Purple Chips with Cranberry Salsa

For a colorful companion, I threw about a cup of cranberries and a couple of tablespoons of raw sugar in a pan, and brought it to a simmer until the berries burst and it thickened. A jolt of hot sauce, a pinch of salt, and some cilantro, and I had a very simple cranberry salsa.

The purple anthocyanins gave the chips a deep, dark color, and it looked and tasted great with the tart and tangy salsa.

I am thoroughly happy with the beautiful purple corn, and plan to keep experimenting with it over the winter. I know I’ve just gotten started.

It will be a beautiful ride.

You can read more about the company, and order the corn at the website of Suntava Purple Corn.

Buy Suntava Corn Seeds at Burpee


Purple Cornbread with Blueberry Jam

Purple Cornbread with Blueberry Jam

Purple Cornbread with Apples with a Side of Apple Braised Kale and Walnuts

Serves 6-8


1 cup unbleached flour

1 cup Suntava purple cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar or sucanat

1 cup milk or 1 cup non-dairy milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar added

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup water whisked with 1 tablespoon finely ground flax, or 1 egg

1 small apple, diced


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch Lacinato or other kale

2 small apples

1/2 cup apple cider or juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, broken coarsely



Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly oil an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar, stir to mix.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, oil, and water-flax mixture or egg. Whisk to mix.

Stir the wet mix into the dry mix, then stir in the apple. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cetner of the pan comes out clean.

While the cornbread bakes, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the kale and stir until it starts to wilt. Add the apple cider or juice, the died apples, and salt, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan for a few minutes to wilt the kale to your desired level of tenderness.



A Flatbread Hack to Make Easy Za’atar Bread

An Easy Hack for Fragrant, Light Textured Whole Grain Bread

An Easy Hack for Fragrant, Light Textured Whole Grain Bread

Bread is the most elemental of foods. Grain, water, salt, and some busy little yeasts to do the heavy lifting. Depending on your level of commitment, it can take days to craft a great loaf. True artisans nurture starters for decades, and slowly ferment their doughs to the peak of perfection.

Or, you can be as lazy as I am, and hack the process down to a few minutes of mixing. Yes, this takes the foresight to start a day ahead and leave the dough overnight in the refrigerator, but you can also get lazy on day two and leave it in there until you feel like baking it.

Yes, whole grain bread devotee that I am, I do like getting my bread fix without fuss, sometimes. Slow breads are fantastic, when I have my act together. Like everybody else, I have to budget my time.

Throwing together this flatbread is honestly as easy as making biscuits. I started out with a bag of Montana grown white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat is nutritionally the same as hard red winter wheat flour, but has a paler pigment in the bran. It’s really kind of beige. It’s also a little lower in gluten than regular wheat.

My other inspiration was a package of Za’taar that I picked up in a fantastic store, La Bouffe International in Portland. Made by a women’s cooperative, the Canaan Fair Trade Delicacies za’atar is moist and deep green, unlike many powdery zataar blends. It’s Palestinian, so it is mostly thyme, unlike many za’atar blends that are heavy on the oregano. It is spiked with sumac and roasted sesame seeds, and tossed with olive oil and a touch of sea salt.

Worth seeking out!

Worth seeking out!

So, I lazily retrieved my ingredients and set to the brief task of measuring and stirring. I spent more time arranging the stuff for this photo than making the bread. It gave me time to reflect.

Whew, almost broke a sweat!

Whew, almost broke a sweat!

I didn’t invent refrigerated dough, it’s been around for years. Back in the day, when I baked in a restaurant, we used to make big batches of pizza dough and keep them in the cooler for a few days, taking out what we needed each day. We only started doing it because we had leftover dough one time, and discovered the happy accident of improved flavor.

Little did we know, the slow fermentation of a stay in the fridge was improving the dough. The yeasts were chilled down to slow-motion speed, allowing them to keep reproducing and breaking apart the components of the flour, making the dough more digestible and creating new flavor compounds. When working with whole wheat flour, this is especially helpful, as there are some bits and pieces in the bran and germ that are thirsty, as well as some bits of bran that act like little knives in the mix, slicing up the gluten fibers that make the dough hold an open crumb. A little time for the flour to soak and get chewed on by microorganisms is a good thing, when it comes to whole grain breads.

Who says whole wheat breads are heavy?

Who says whole wheat breads are heavy?

So, there is little more to do but chill and then pour it out on the pan. I know, you may have expected folding, or kneading, or even some shaping. But because we want to save all the bubbles that developed in the fridge, it’s best just to gently tease the cold dough into a round and let it warm up on top of the pre-heating oven.

It’s a cheater’s way to bake, but hey, I am all about a shortcut that still give me hot, airy fresh bread. Whole grains are so tasty and good for you, anything that makes it a possibility to have a herby flatbread, hot out of the oven on a weeknight, is fine with me.


Za’atar Bread

Serves 4

4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sesame seeds and more olive oil, for pan
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons za’atar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

The day before baking, combine the flour, salt and yeast in a 2 quart storage tub or bowl. Stir in the water and olive oil to make a sticky, soft dough. Cover and refrigerate overnight and up to 3 days.
The day of baking, take the cold dough out of the refrigerator. Line a sheet pan with parchment.
Spread a bit of olive oil on the parchment, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Pour the dough on the sesame and gently form into a round. The dough will be cold and sticky. Use your fingertips and try not to press or cause the dough to lose all those great air bubbles. Let rise for about an hour. You can check on the temp by sliding your hand under the pan, if it is still cold, let it sit longer, on top of the stove as the oven heats up. Preheat the oven to 400F.
When the dough is warm and , drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges of the bread are browned and the bottom is crisp. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

 Fava Bean Salad

1 14.5 ounce can fava beans

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

10 grape tomatoes, sliced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Drain and rinse the beans, place in a bowl with the parsley and tomatoes. In a cup, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, salt and cumin, pour over the ban mixture and toss to coat.

Holiday Hand Pies, Stuffed with Sweet Potatoes, Fruit and Chocolate

These easy filo wrapped parcels are spiked with chocolate!

These easy filo wrapped parcels are spiked with chocolate!

If you love food, you have to give it up for Thanksgiving. It’s the one holiday that is all about a feast. This holiday is a celebration of a successful harvest, with no religious trappings that might leave anyone out. So whether you are celebrating with pumpkins you raised yourself, bought from a farmer, or purchased already in the can, you are participating in a harvest. Somewhere.

It’s also a time for tradition. Most families have been serving the same dishes for years, and the mention of switching it up in any way shakes the very foundation of the group. No stuffing? No turkey? NO PUMPKIN PIE?

To keep everybody happy, it is best to keep a core of familiar dishes, and do some creative things on the sidelines. Respect the past with the usual mashed potatoes, but offer some fun variations on the potato, like these Blue Potatoes as an appetizer. Keep the family stuffing, or try this Wild Rice Stuffing, and make the vegetarians happy.

So, while your pumpkin pie is a must-have, it might be fun to make a new dessert to share. These Holiday Hand Pies are sure to disappear quickly from the buffet table. A crackly filo shell, sparkling with crunchy Turbinado sugar, encases a tender sweet potato and fruit filling. The familiar Fall flavors of sweet potatoes, apples, pears, and dried cherries get a zingy sprinkle of spices, laced with melty bits of dark chocolate.

You may think filo is fussy, but really, is pie crust any less so? What I love about filo is that once you have your filling ready and have located the pastry brush, you are good to go. Brush, fill, fold, boom, you have a pan full of appealing treats.

Simple: Roast, Cool, Fill, Bake

Simple: Roast, Cool, Fill, Bake

For the vegan crowd, use coconut oil in this dessert, and everyone else will love it, too. Coconut oil brushed filo bakes up crisp, even crisper than it does with butter. I like to sprinkle the big crystals of sugar between the layers, too, to make the shell extra crunchy. If you prefer, you can use unsalted butter instead of coconut oil.

Make sure to plan ahead and thaw the filo overnight in the refrigerator. I know that the package says to just leave it on the counter for a couple of hours, but trust me, it is best to give it a slow and gentle thaw. The thin sheets of dough have just enough moisture in them to stay flexible, and if you rush the thawing, the moisture tends to condense between the sheets, giving you brittle sheets that stick together. And remember the cardinal rule of filo: Do not open the package until you are completely set up with your prepared pan, melted fat, brush, cooled filling and bowl of crunchy sugar. Once you open that package, you want to work quickly, so the sheets don’t dry out. My filo was a little dried out from being in the freezer for a while, but with a good coat of fat and some careful folding, it still came out great.

If you have some gluten-free diners coming, you can either make or buy some gluten-free pie dough and use 1/4 a shell’s worth of crust to make four of these into turnovers.

If you want to prep ahead, you can assemble these, baste them well with coconut oil or butter, and then wrap the whole pan tightly. They will hold, unbaked, for a day, so you can unwrap and bake them right before the meal. Or, you can bake them a day ahead and either warm them up in a 300 F oven, or serve at room temperature. I like them a little warm, so the chocolate is melty and you get the scent of cinnamon as you take a bite.

Just a mouthful of heaven

Just a mouthful of heaven


Holiday Hand Pies

The filling can be made a day, or even two, before assembling. These are a dessert that qualifies for the morning-after breakfast, as well. Warm any leftovers up and serve them with a cup of coffee, and everyone will forget about their cold cereals and donuts.

Makes 12

4 cups diced sweet potatoes, about 1 large

1 small pear, diced

1 small apple, diced

1 tablespoon coconut oil for the pan (plus about 1/2 cup for the filo later)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon arrowroot

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

12 sheets filo dough (thawed overnight in the refrigerator)

turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a 2 quart casserole or a deep roasting pan, combine the sweet potatoes, pear and apple and drizzle with melted coconut oil. Toss to coat, then cover the pan and roast for about 30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Take out and let cool on a rack.

In a cup, stir the cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and arrowroot to mix, then sprinkle over the warm sweet potato mixture and toss to coat. Stir in the cherries. Wait to add the chocolate chips until the mixture is cooled.

Get your pastry brush and melted coconut oil, and pour some turbinado sugar in a ramekin or small bowl. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Unwrap the filo. I used a package of half sheets, but you can use standard full sheets. For half sheets, place one on the counter, brush with oil, and sprinkle with turbinado. Place another on top. If using full sheets, place the sheet with the longest edge parallel to the counter’s edge. Lightly oil the left half, sprinkle with turbinado, and fold the other half over it. Lightly oil again and fold again, making a long strip.

Place about 1/3 cup of filling on the dough as shown, then fold up to make a triangle. Place on the parchment lined pan and brush with more oil, and sprinkle with more turbinado.

When all are assembled, bake for about 20 minutes in the 400 F oven. When the filo is crisp and golden, they are ready. Let cool for at least 5 before eating.



Pumpkin Quinoa Chili, for Pre-Holiday Energy

Pumpkin Quinoa Chili with Chickpeas and Chocolate!

Pumpkin Quinoa Chili with Chickpeas and Chocolate!

The holidays are creeping up on us, and it is time to start making decisions about what you will serve at your big dinner. Just thinking about it, and the shopping, the planning, the cooking, well, it works up an appetite, doesn’t it?

Back in the days when I cooked in a deli, where we made boatloads of holiday sides and desserts for people to pick up in the big holiday week, I noticed a recurring phenomenon. Sure, people were obsessed with stuffing and gravy, and pumpkin pie was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

But when it came right down to it, all that work meant that the cook didn’t have time to cook for the whole week before the centerpiece meal. So as we were prepping up our bread cubes and stocks, we were also selling a whole bunch of ready to re-heat meals. Slabs of lasagna were popular, with flavors nothing like the herby, savory dishes of the Thanksgiving tradition.

So, as you enter the pre-holiday season, you need some quick recipes that will give you the stamina to get through all the pie-crust rolling and potato mashing. In the spirit of the season, I give you Pumpkin Quinoa Chili. It’s warming and rib-sticking enough to work all winter long, but actually lean and vegetable rich enough to help you earn all those splurge foods you are dreaming of.

It features quinoa, the darling of the whole grain world. I recently attended a conference where all sorts of research on whole grains was presented, called the American Association of Cereal Chemists International. One seminar was on the growth in the popularity of quinoa. Peru, where most quinoa is grown, has seen sales rise from $15 million in 2010 to a projected $180 million this year. There is quite a bit of debate on whether that is good or bad for the Peruvian people. The cereal experts are working on developing new varieties that will grow in other climates, and we can look forward to quinoa grown closer to home, in the coming years.

The presenter thought that an important driver in the popularity of quinoa was the gluten-free market, and I agree, but I think it’s a number of markets. The vegans love quinoa for the easy, natural complete protein. The paleos can even find a spot for it, if they aren’t too hard core, since it is technically a seed and not a grain.

And lets not forget taste. Taste is number one in all consumer decisions about food. Quinoa tastes good.

So I cooked up a big batch of it, to use throughout the week, as I recommend in my book, The Whole Grain Promise. And then I made this tasty, warming, high-protein chili.

As always, it starts with a saute.

Pumpkin Quinoa Chili #tasty #recipes #wholegrain #veganOnce the onions were softened, I added an assortment of both chili and pumpkin pie spices, and let them get lightly toasted, then added the cooked quinoa to coat it with spice. Then all the rest of the pumpkin and veggies went in. Once it was all simmered and thick, a touch of unsweetened chocolate for a bit of bitter complexity.

Let the chocolate melt, then stir it in..

Let the chocolate melt, then stir it in..

So if you are bored with your usual chili, try this fun variation. It’s a quick recipe that will fuel you through the November madness.


Pumpkin Quinoa Chili with Chickpeas and Chocolate

Makes about 6 cups

1 cup cooked quinoa (about 1/3 cup raw)

1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon ground ancho chiles

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon pie spice blend

1 orange bell pepper, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 cups vegetable stock

14.5 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 1/ cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, drained)

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped


Measure the quinoa and pumpkin and reserve. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Saute for about 10 minutes, then add the garlic. Stir for a couple of minutes, then add the ancho powder, cumin, pie spice, and quinoa. Stir until fragrant. Add the peppers, celery, stock, tomatoes and pumpkin and stir to mix. Add the chickpeas and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the chocolate and let it sit on the hot chili until melted. Stir in and cook a little longer to blend the flavors. This will actually be better the next day.

Serve garnished with cilantro.

Pumpkin Chips? Make Sage-Pumpkinseed Pate with Frizzled Sage

Pumpkin Chips with Sage-Pumpkinseed Pate and Sizzled Sage Leaves

Pumpkin Chips with Sage-Pumpkinseed Pate and Sizzled Sage Leaves

The Thanksgiving themed foods are upon us. And while the “Turkey and Gravy” flavored potato chips are safe from me, there are a few of these brief appearances that are worth catching.

One that I found appealing was the Food Should Taste Good Harvest Pumpkin Corn Chips. They are a good, sturdy whole grain corn chip, laced with a little pumpkin and dusted with a spice medley that includes both heat and some pie-themed spices. A little bit sweet, a little bit pumpkin-y, and full of corn crunch, the chips beckoned me to come up with a dip to match up with all the Thanksgiving flavors that each chip contained.

What I came up with would make a great appetizer at the big T-Day feast, or a simple Meatless Monday dinner, with a salad on the side. I love playing with the flavors of the traditional meal to make something unexpected.

You know it's Fall when the chips taste like pumpkin!

You know it’s Fall when the chips taste like pumpkin!

So, I started with some meaty mushrooms, nutty toasted pumpkinseeds, and a generous handful of fresh sage leaves. Sauteing mushrooms and garlic for a classic mushroom pate, I knew that the toasted pumpkinseeds would add umami, and the richness we all crave when the weather gets cold. I kept it simple, wanting the flavor of sage to really stand out. The chips have a bit of intensity to their coating of spice, so no need to go overboard in the dip.

Once the dip was pureed to a coarse paste, I molded it in a bowl, and then frizzled some sage leaves to add as a delicious garnish. Sage is one of the twiggy herbs, and it stands up well to hot oil, becoming crispy and concentrated, rather than losing flavor as basil would.

All in all, it is a quick recipe that makes the most of a whole grain food that you can buy already prepared. Of course, if you don’t have the pumpkin chips, other chips, breads or crackers will do.

Dry-toasted seeds and Sage in Olive Oil

Dry-toasted seeds and Sage in Olive Oil

So get in on the Fall pumpkin-spice craze, without falling prey to an artificially flavored coffee concoction. Pumpkin and spices are beautiful, natural foods that taste great, so we might as well enjoy the real things, right?


Dip that chip in a riot of flavor!

Dip that chip in a riot of flavor!

Sage-Pumpkinseed Pate with Pumpkin Corn Chips

Makes about 1 1/4 cup dip

1 cup hulled pumpkinseeds

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 cup chopped fresh sage plus a handful of whole leaves

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

about 1 teaspoon coarsely crushed black peppercorns ( I use a pot to crush them)

Pumpkin Corn Chips

In a large saute pan, heat the pumpkinseeds over medium high heat. Dry-toast, swirling in the pan, until the seeds start to pop and turn golden brown in spots. Dump the seeds into the bowl of the food processor.

Return the pan to the heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chopped sage and stir over medium heat until the sage sizzles and turns a shade darker. Transfer to the processor with the seeds, leaving the sage-flavored oil in the pan.

In the same pan, add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat. Stir frequently as they shrink and darken. Add the garlic when the mushrooms are soft and the pan is almost dry. Stir until the garlic is fragrant and barely golden-don’t let it burn. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the processor bowl.

Add the salt and half of the pepper, and process until coarsely pureed. Scrape down and process to desired consistency, I like some chunkiness.

Lightly oil a cereal bowl and press the pate in the bowl, then unmold on a serving platter. Heat the remaining oil in a saute pan and add the remaining whole sage leaves. Fry over medium-high heat until crispy and golden around the edges. Pour the sage and oil from the pan over the pate. Sprinkle with cracked pepper and serve with pumpkin chips.

The Best Way to Save Squash, and Streusel Muffins to Savor It

Moist and Tender Muffins, Topped with Crunchy Streusel

Moist and Tender Muffins, Topped with Crunchy Streusel

Got squash? It’s that time of year, and I know I have gotten carried away at the Farmer’s Market a time or two. The piles of orange, blue, green and gold squashes are too gorgeous to pass by without grabbing a few choice ones.

It’s ok, since I love squash so much. I’ve even devised an easy way to save it. I simply bake and mash it, then pack it into a half cup measure. I tap put each half cup of squash onto a parchment lined sheet pan, and making little pucks of squash. Then, I freeze them all until solid, then transfer to a zip-top freezer bag. That way, I can squeeze out most of the air, so they will stay moist longer.

Now, I am armed with convenient, quick to thaw portions of squash that will work in all sorts of recipes. Want some body in a soup? Add a chunk to the simmering broth. Making a creamy pasta? Stir in some squash. Baking? Of course, this is where the squash will really shine. Skipping the step of baking the squash will make my wintertime baking much more convenient.

Suddenly, a squash cake, muffin, pie, or scone is a quick recipe. All because I set myself up now.

Bake a bunch and save it for baking, sauces, and more

Bake a bunch and save it for baking, sauces, and more

Each half cup of golden squash is perfect for a batch of muffins. To make them even more appealing, I used my favorite palm sugar in the batter, and also to make a streusel topping. I love to bake with palm sugar paste, the kind you buy at Asian markets. It’s in the Thai section, and is the essential raw sugar that gives Thai sauces their complex sweetness. It’s also a relatively healthful sweetener, with a low glycemic index and some minerals. But most importantly, it tastes slightly caramel-y and adds depth to your baked goods.

Great for breakfast, lunch, or a tasty snack

Great for breakfast, lunch, or a tasty snack

I went with half whole wheat pastry flour and half unbleached Einkorn flour, to keep the muffins light. You could certainly make them with all whole wheat, as well. If you wanted to throw in some cinnamon, that would be delicious, too.

Banking that squash in my freezer means that I can make these muffins several times, without baking a squash. That means that when the harsh winter winds blow, I can bake up a comforting batch of muffins, and remember the Fall day when I bought a Blue Hubbard squash at the market.

You certainly can’t get that out of a can.

Nutty Squash Streusel Muffins

Makes 11

1 cup unbleached Einkorn or wheat flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup palm sugar paste or brown sugar, divided

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 cup mashed squash

3/4 cup vanilla or plain non-dairy milk

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

1/4 cup neutral oil, like canola


Line 11 cups of a muffin tin with paper liners, reserve. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, combine the unbleached and whole wheat flours, baking powder, soda and salt. Whisk to combine.

Scrape the palm sugar out of the jar and pack into a 1/4 cup measure, then place the in a medium bowl and mix with the walnuts. Rub to mix well, and reserve.

Mix the remaining 1/2 cup  palm sugar and squash, mashing to pulverize the palm sugar. In a cup, stir the non-dairy milk and flax seeds and let stand for five minutes to thicken. When it looks thick, stir into the squash mixture and add the canola oil. Stir to combine.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, just until combined. Scoop 1/4 cup portions of batter into each prepared cup. Sprinkle the batter with the reserved walnut mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out with no wet batter clinging to it.

Cool muffins on a rack, then transfer to a storage container, where they keep for a week, refrigerated, if you don’t devour them all within hours.

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