The Real Food Journal

Share a Heart-Healthy Chili Bar : It’s Great Superbowl Food

Chili Bar gives you the option to add your favorites to a bowl of smoky red chili!

Start with a bowl of red, and top it as you see fit!

Superbowl food doesn’t have to be sooo unhealthy…

Minneapolis has a case of Superbowl fever, as we count down to the big game. For my part, I will be appearing on “WCCO This Morning” on February 2nd, cooking to promote Wear Red day for the American Heart Association, while providing a tasty chili feast that you can make for the big game.

Because heart health is still important on Superbowl Sunday.

Heart disease is a big one for me. I’ve lost loved ones to it, I’ve had heart surgery. But more about that later.

For some reason, the craziness around the Superbowl extends to the food, too. Superbowl food is all about ribs and bacon and chips and dip. It’s as if sat fat were the lucky charm to make your team win. So, to make everybody happy, I’ve devised a chili bar that allows you to serve a vegetable-rich, heart-healthy chili, and offer assorted toppings. It’s Superbowl food for a healthy heart.

Wear Red!

I am all in on Wear Red Day- red is my color! It’s also personal for me. The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement is an effort to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women. CVD is the #1 killer of women- more women than men die of heart disease, more than all cancers combined. And everyone can reduce their risk by 80% with diet and exercise.

Like most of you, heart disease has been a part of my life. My own father died of heart failure, after many years of suffering. It was terrible to watch a strong, athletic person slowly decline as CVD progressed.

Maybe it was my Dad’s habits that made me such a plant-based, get-moving kind of person. That’s why I was shocked when I was diagnosed with a hearth defect ten years ago and had to have heart surgery. There I was I was, riding my bike on 50 mile circuits three times a week, going to kickboxing class, and getting all A’s when I had my blood pressure and cholesterol checks.

My heart surgery story

So when I called my doctor’s office about a weird pain in my chest that I thought was heartburn, the nurse told me to go to the ER. I scoffed. “No way, I don’t have heart problems,” I said. “You have to go.” She said. I blew it off, but after a sleepless night, I gave in and went to the hospital.

After a couple of hours and some tests, it turned out that I had a congenital heart defect called Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome. The heart problem had nothing to do with my heartburn, it had just gone undetected all this time. The doctor recommended surgery. I scoffed again. “I’m too busy to have heart surgery!” I said.

Luckily for me, a determined nurse, whose name I do not know, wouldn’t let it rest. She kept calling me. Finally, she talked me into meeting with the heart surgeon, just to talk.

And a month or so later, I had heart surgery. An ablation, to be specific, to zap away some extra electrical tissue in my heart.

It was amazing, one minute I was being strapped to a table, the next I was awake and looking at my new, perfect EKG. I was home the next day, and was out walking on the trail as soon as I got home.

The moral of the story is, if your doctor says you need heart surgery, don’t put it off. They are really good at these things these days. Better to fix a problem before it gets out of hand.

I want to keep my friends and family healthy, too!

So, I’m in the business of making delicious, healthful food, and I serve it to the people I love. Because we all need to take care of our hearts. Keeping all my loved ones heart-healthy extends to my Superbowl food spread, too. If you need a cool cocktail, check out my Lemon Thyme Slushy.

Superbowl food that's good for your heart!

On TV, I’ll be browning ground turkey, but at my house, I cooked up some homemade seitan, and I’ll bet some people wouldn’t notice the difference.

If people want to, they can pile up avocado and red chilis and cilantro, or they can spoon a bunch of the ground turkey on there. As long as there is a healthy base, it is better than most of the Superbowl food options.

And that is how I put points on the board. One bowl of chili at a time.

Superbowl Chili for Wear Red Day

Serve your friends and family this tasty, vegetable-rich chili, and if you must, serve some meat on the side. People might just fall for the meatless chili, and enjoy a heart healthy meal while watching the big game!

Course Main Course
Servings 6
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1/4 cup freekeh
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can red kidney beans 15 ounces
  • 2 cups vegetable stock approximately
  • 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste


  • 8 ounces ground turkey or seitan plus chipotle powder, if desired
  • 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 large scallions chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 large red Fresno or red jalapenos slivered
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • chopped pineapple, hot sauce, etc.


  1. In a small pot, bring 1 cup water to a boil, then add the freekeh. Cover tightly and reduce to a simmer, cook for 20 minutes. Take off the heat, stir and drain any excess water. Reserve.
  2.  In a 4 quart pot with a lid, heat the olive oil, then add the onion, carrot and pepper and saute for about five minutes or longer, until soft and golden. Add garlic and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika and stir, then add the salt, cooked freekeh, kidney beans,vegetable stock, diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir, simmer for 10, adding water or stock if needed. When the chili is thick, taste for salt and heat, and adjust to taste. Can be made up to three days ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered.
  3. To serve, warm the chili. Saute the turkey or seitan in a little olive oil, adding a pinch of salt and a pinch of chipotle powder, if desired. Serve all the toppings in bowls, and let your guests serve the chili and spoon toppings on top.



Make Some Comfort Food: Creamy Roots Puree with Cashew Curry Gravy

Roots Puree with Curry Gravy is comfort food

Just Comfort Food

Comfort Me With Food

It’s cold outside, and here in Minnesota, we’ve been cocooning for weeks. At times like this, it’s hard to keep from face-planting into anything at all that seems like it might replace the energizing effects of sunshine and warmth. Sugar, Salt and Fat are sending out a siren call. At times like this, I look for comfort food that packs a bunch of flavor, creaminess, and yes, real food goodness. A Creamy Roots Puree with Curry Cashew Gravy hits the spot.

Steamed Parsnips, Turnips and Whole Garlic Cloves, comfort food

Steamed Until Butter-Soft

Why Roots?

First and foremost, I have no beef with potatoes. I forget about them, honestly, because I’m thinking about whole grains when I put my menus together. I’m not potato-phobic, or anti-carb. But when it comes to a creamy, silky mash, I really think parsnips are so much sexier. Parsnips are like the sweet, mildly earthy cousin of the potato, once you cook them. For this puree, I snagged a huge turnip, really, it counted as two turnips. It’s my laziness that calls me to big vegetables, thinking, “I’ll only have to peel one!” and this turnip looked smooth and fresh, so there was no fear of it being a woody monster root.

Spice it up with Curry

From there, it was a matter of sauce. I had my fill of meaty tasting miso gravies over the holidays, so I was in the mood for something a little spicier. That craving for comfort food dictated that I wanted creaminess, so I went with raw cashews, for a rich, thick base. Curry spices felt warming and complex enough to keep me interested. I had fresh turmeric on hand for juices and smoothies, and love to add that to dishes as often as it makes sense. I’ve written about the incredible health benefits of turmeric before here, with a recipe for dal, too. I’m dedicated to keeping my brain as healthy as possible, and turmeric is part of that plan.

Roots Puree with Curry Gravy, comfort food

Creamy Roots Puree with Curry Cashew Gravy

So, yes, I ate it with a spoon, without expending any energy on pesky chewing. This would make a great side dish for a big salad, covered with Cauliflower and Spiced Nuts, or alongside a mess of Channa Dal. Kamut Naan with Banana Chutney would be divine.  Cauliflower Biryani would be another unexpected twist to serve alongside. A samosa or some Chapati might also be a good accompaniment. If you’re up for it, my Nut Curry Stuffed Squashes are a showstopper of a main course.

It’s starting to feel like winter won’t last forever, so you might as well give yourself over to comfort food that makes you feel good in your body. Warm up with real food.

Creamy Roots Puree with Curried Cashew Gravy

Servings 4


  • 4 medium parsnips peeled and sliced
  • 2 large turnips peeled and sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves peeled
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked
  • 1 medium roma tomato chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cilantro for garnish
  • 1/2 cup toasted cashews


  1. Set up a steamer and steam the parsnips and turnips until very tender, about 10 minutes. Pour the coconut milk or other milk and salt into the Vitamix and add the hot roots. Secure the lid and insert the tamper. Start on Variable Speed 1 and increase gradually as you press the ingredients into the blades with the tamper. When smooth, transfer to a serving dish and keep warm.

  2. For gravy, drizzle the oil in a large saute pan and place over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir, and cook for about 10 minutes. When tender, add the turmeric and ginger and cook for a couple more minutes.  Add the paprika and cayenne and stir. Add the tomato and stir until softened, about 4 minutes.

  3. Transfer the onion mixture to the Vitamix and add the cashews and half a cup of water. Secure the lid and select Variable Speed 1. Using the tamper, press the ingredients into the blades as you increase the speed. Blend on High until the mixture is very smooth. Makes about a cup plus 2 tablespoons of gravy.

  4. Serve the roots with a drizzle of gravy and top with cilantro and toasted cashews.

Make An Easy Chimichurri and Chipotle Cauliflower Bowl for Balance in 2018

Chimichurri Brown Rice Bowl with Pepitas

Easy, Tongue-Tingling Chimichurri Sauce Makes This Simple Bowl Exciting

It’s almost the middle of January, the time that most New Years Resolutions fall by the wayside. If I might make a suggestion, let’s all drop any crazy juice fasts and extra hours of extreme cardio right now. What we really need now, and all year long, is balance. And soul satisfying bowls with herby, tangy chimichurri sauce, of course.

(For a few more balancing bowls check out a Big Kale Bowl with Turmeric-Cashew Dressing,or Roasted Broccoli and Quinoa Bowl,or a Tibetan Tsampa Bowl with Veggies.)

Balance, Not Diets

As much as we’d like to think that adopting a short term diet or exercise regime will fix our dietary sins, the truth is that we will be happier and healthier if we just seek balance, day in and day out.

I know, the instant fix is so much more appealing. But I have learned from experience. Diets don’t work, habits do. And seeking the “middle path” is a gentle, life-affirming way to find your healthy weight, take care of yourself, and be in the right place when you do decide to indulge a little over the holidays.

Like all of you, I spent much of December “misbehaving.” I carved out two whole weeks to spend with my family, and to eat pie, drink wine, and sleep late. It was glorious, and I have no guilt or regret. There are times when it’s more important to be fully present and take it all in, and recharge.

Filling the Well

I love the work I do, creating recipes, writing about food, and teaching people about the joys of real food. But by the end of the year, I was feeling drained. I felt as if I had no new ideas, nothing to say. I posted my last blog a week before Christmas, and fell silent. I gave myself over to having long, lovely breakfasts with my Mother and husband, to napping, to going out to eat. I hugged my Mom alot. I cooked for friends and family, but didn’t write any of it down. I soaked up some intangibles. I meditated a little. My creative well was drained, and I was filling it back up.

Back to Life

So, when it was time to get back to work this week, It did feel as though I had veered a little to one side of my middle path. But I knew I didn’t need to drive into the ditch on the other side. Just cook up a pot of grains, roast some vegetables, and resume living the way I usually do. I had a big pile of work waiting for me, so all I really needed was to nurture myself and get back into it. Refreshed and re-inspired, I was ready.

Chipotle Cauliflower for a Great Bowl Meal

Chipotle Sprinkled Cauliflower, Carrots and Onion

Which brings me to chipotle-roasted cauliflower and chimichurri sauce. There’s no need to eat boring meals when you are eating healthfully. A big bowl of brown rice is soul food, and topping it with lots of textures and flavors creates a riot of flavor. Crank the oven and roast the cauliflower, heck, double it and use some in a salad the next day.

The chimichurri is garlicky, herbal, and sparked with red wine vinegar. It’ll wake up your palate in this cold, snowy season. Toasted pumpkinseeds, or pepitas, give the dish a nutty crunch, as well as providing protein and good fats. Avocado, olives and olive oil taste great, and also provide the kind of fats that have been shown to reduce the risk of depression, so drizzle the chimichurri on with abandon.

Chipotle Roasted Cauliflower

Roast Smoky, Spicy Cauliflower ’til It’s Soft and Sweet

So if you are struggling a little with post-holiday readjustments, and feeling like you need to make 2018 a little bit better than 2017, remember balance. Just breathe, and look for the middle path. Big, grain based bowl meals are the culinary embodiment of balance. You can find your own sweet spot when you add a little more of this, less of that. Check out my book, Great Bowls of Food, for even more recipes that help you find that balance.

But don’t skimp on the chimichurri sauce. You need some zing, right about now.

Chimichurri Topped Brown Rice Bowl with Pepitas and Chipotle Cauliflower

There's nothing like a brown rice bowl to put you back in balance, especially after a period of holiday excess. This tangy Chimichurri has pepitas for a little more heft, and smoky chipotle laced cauliflower for contrast.

Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 large carrot quartered and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • extra virgin olive oil

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/2 cup flat leaved parsley
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1/2 cup pepitas toasted, divided
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped red shallot plus slivers for bowl
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 16 large pitted kalamata olives chopped
  • 16 pickled peppadew peppers sliced
  • 1 large ripe avocado sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the cauliflower, carrot, onion, and chipotle pepper on a sheet pan, salt to taste. Roast for about 10 minutes, until browned in spots. Keep warm.

  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the parsley, cilantro, garlic, half the pepitas, and process to mince. If necessary, scrape down and repeat. Add the vinegar, olive oil, shallot, oregano and salt and process to make a chunky paste. Scrape into a small bowl.

  3. For each bowl, spread a cup of cooked rice in a wide bowl, and arrange 1/4 of the cauliflower, peppers, olives, avocado and some chopped shallot on top. Drizzle with chimichurri to taste and sprinkle with the remaining toasted pepitas. Serve.

Make Mini Holiday Tarts in Six Flavors for a Delicious Dilemma

Holiday Tarts

So hard to pick from the Holiday Tarts!

Do you wrestle with the decision of which pies to make at the holidays? Pumpkin, pear, apple, or even pecan sound so good, but do you really need four whole pies? This time, I’m making six different holiday tarts, each one designed to generously serve one person. This way, everybody has a delicious quandary at the end of the meal.

They have to pick a holiday tart.

Give Your Guests a Choice

Honestly, you won’t have to spend much more time than if you made one pie. One dough, rolled out in six rounds, topped with simple fillings. It’s a little more work, but the payoff of six showy holiday tarts is worth it.

For some easy party snacks, try these Mandarin Chocolate Shots or Smoky Almond Butter Popcorn.

Make a fabulous signature cocktail for your party with my Slushy Lemon Thyme Cocktail.

Of course, I went with whole grain flour in the crust. White whole wheat or whole wheat pastry is soft and tender enough to make good pastry. You can either melt, measure and chill coconut oil to grate in, or use cold butter.

six holiday tarts, pumpkin, pear and apple

Six holiday tarts cooling on the rack

The rustic tart is so easy, and I’ve devised a way to keep the crust from getting soggy when you fill it with fruit. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour mixed with sugar under the fruit, and it will soak up the juices and thicken to a lush layer of flavor.

holiday tarts

Apple, Pear, Pumpkin, Casual and Delicious

The other trick is making a dense pumpkin filling with either cream cheese or chevre. It cooks to a smooth, less custardy consistency, and doesn’t make the crust soggy. It’s thick enough to be contained by the folded edges of the crust.

Apples from my friend's friend's trees.

Cranberry Apple, or do you want Ginger Pear?

I was lucky to have a few apples left from a bag I was given by my neighbor. She had visited her family and picked some apples from the apple trees that have been there for at least 50 years. I had a few Prairie Spy and Wolf River and Liberty Apples and I sliced them for these tarts. You can use any firm, tart baking apples, as long as they aren’t too big.

Heirloom apples for holiday tarts

In the back, a Wolf River with the long stem, on the right, Prairie Spy, in front, Liberty.

Bosc pears are perfect for this, they are not as juicy as many other varieties of pear, and they stay just firm enough as they bake.

Individual Apple Tarts

Cinnamon Apple Tart with Whipped Cream

Of course, you can make a coconut whipped cream, or whatever variation on whipped topping you enjoy. Ice cream would also gild the lily nicely.

Don’t put too much on, you’ll want to taste these.

The holidays come but once a year, might as well make a spread of mouth-watering holiday tarts.

Six Single Serving Holiday Tarts

Serve your guests a delicious dilemma. They will have to choose one of these tasty tarts, pumpkin, pear or apple, all differently topped. You just make one pastry dough and fill it six ways, and watch the raves roll in.

Course Dessert
Servings 6
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled, refined coconut oil or grass fed butter
  • 1/2 cup ice water approximately
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar


    Pumpkin Filling

    • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
    • 1/4 cup non-dairy cream cheese or chevre cheese
    • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons arrowroot
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

    Fruit Fillings

    • 1/2 cup Turbinado sugar
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 4 tablespoons unbleached flour
    • 4 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
    • 2 small apples peeled and sliced
    • 2 small bosc pears peeled and sliced
    • 1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
    • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries


    1. In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, unbleached flour and salt. Stir to mix well. Use the coarse holes of a grater or a pastry cutter to shred or cut the coconut oil or butter into the flour mixture. Toss the mixture and mix with your hands for a few seconds, leaving the fat in small pieces. In a cup, combine the ice water and vinegar. Using a fork to toss the flour mixture, drizzle in the water mixture until the flour is all moistened. Stir and gently turn and knead with your hands, just until a dough is formed. If the dough is dry, drizzle in a tablespoon of cold water just to make a firm but flexible dough.
    2. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, and form each piece into a disk shape. Chill for up to 24 hours. Line a rimless baking sheet with parchment.
    3. Measure the flour. Mix the Turbinado sugar and cinnamon in a cup, reserve. Prepare the sliced fruit and crystallized ginger. Mix the 4 tablespoons of flour with the 4 tablespoons of sugar and reserve. In a food processor, combine the pumpkin, cheese of choice, brown sugar, arrowroot, cinnamon and nutmeg and process. Scrape into a cup. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

    4. On a floured counter, roll each round out into a 7 inch circle. Place a round on the prepared pan and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of flour-sugar mixture, and arrange sliced apples or pear slices, as pictured. Make four of these, and sprinkle a few cranberries on one apple tart, and crystallized ginger on one pear tart. Cover the apple tarts and the plain pear tart with cinnamon sugar. Form pleats as you fold the dough over the filling, picking up the edge and pulling it toward the center and repeating a section at at time. On the remaining two dough rounds, spread the pumpkin mixture, again leaving and edge to fold over. Sprinkle one with a few cranberries, leave the other plain. Repeat the folding of the rim to contain the pumpkin filling.

    5. Bake for 20 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven, then turn the pan, reduce the heat to 375 F, and bake on the top rack for 20 minutes. When the crust is golden brown, transfer the pan to a rack to cool.Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.


    Roasted Veggies Get Sexy with Pomegranate Glaze and Pistachios

    Pomegranate Makes It Beautiful!

    Are you planning a big holiday meal? Looking through pinterest for recipes, or digging out your folder of Grandma’s hand-written favorites?Can I put in a plug for good old fashioned cookbooks, too? And of course, pomegranate.

    This month is prime time for big sit-down dinners with family and friends, and I’m betting that you need a new side dish. Like this easy Pomegranate Glazed Roasted Veggies with Pistachios. Sweet, tart, and savory, this is a great vegetable side that sparkles with pomegranate jewels and bright green pistachios.

    It’s a little Middle Eastern, a little homespun, and will go well with whatever you are serving. Parsnips, sweet potato and carrot give the dish a hearty, comforting quality, and cauliflower roasts alongside them to melting tenderness.

    The only trick in this recipe is cutting the vegetables a little differently than you usually do. Basically, I cut each veg into long planks, then divided those into strips. Then I cut each one, moving the angle of the veg under the knife, to cut triangles instead of just straight across. I think it’s a modified roll-cut, just moving the vegetable so it cuts at irregular angles.

    I just thought it would look a little more exciting, but if you want to cut them the usual way, go for it. The main thing is that everything is similar in size so it will cook evenly.

    Give Your Veggies Room

    You need a big pan, so all the pieces have their own little piece of hot metal on which to caramelize. If you crowd them, they end up steaming and soggy, instead of browned and concentrated.

    The glaze is the easiest thing, if you buy pomegranate juice concentrate. I keep it around for adding to salad dressings, kombucha and other drinks, or anything that needs a dash of sweet and sour.

    If you are looking for more fun with pomegranate, check out these holiday friendly recipes, too:

    Pomegranate Bubbly Cocktails

    Pomegranate Chocolate Shots and Popcorn for Parties


    Pomegranate Glazed Roasted Veggies with Pistachios

    Give your holiday meals a kick with a new side dish- sprinkled with sparkling pomegranate and pistachios for a red and green color scheme.

    Course Side Dish
    Servings 4
    Author Robin Asbell


    • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice concentrate or 3/4 cup, boiled down
    • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 small sweet potato cut in angular pieces, 2 cups
    • 1 large carrot cut at an angle
    • 1 large parsnip cut in angular piece, 2 cups
    • 2 cups cauliflower large florets
    • 1/2 large red onion vertical slices
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
    • coarse salt
    • 1/4 cup roasted pistachios chopped
    • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils


    1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a small pot, combine the pomegranate juice concentrate, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking until the sugar is dissolved.

    2. Slice the vegetables into long slices, then cut on angles to make interesting shapes. Place in a large roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add a couple of sprigs of rosemary and a sprinkling of salt. Toss to coat. Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan and drizzle with the pomegranate mixture. Return to the oven and roast for 20 minutes longer.

    3. When the vegetables are tender when pierced with a paring knife, and the souce is coating them thickly, serve.

    Bake Some Cranberry Sweet Potato Scones for Wintry Breakfasts

    Whole Grain Cranberry Sweet Potato Scones

    Drizzle your cranberry sweet potato scones with a pop of cranberry pink

    Not Just For Holidays Anymore

    Did you know that Wisconsin is the biggest producer of cranberries? Take that California, with your sunny, temperate weather. The snowy Midwest is the source of 60% of the bright red berries that we eat by the bushel at the holidays. As we lead up to Thanksgiving, we need our traditional foods, and suddenly the scarlet berry is in everything from sauce to these Cranberry Sweet Potato Scones.

    The hardworking cranberry growers would love it if we embraced the cranberry all year long, and not just as something to pop into dishes from November to January. This native born superfood is poised and ready to become a part of your meal planning year ’round, in the form of sweetened dried cranberries, frozen cranberries, and juice.

    You eat blueberries in winter, why not cranberries in summer?

    Fresh, Frozen or Dried-Subbing is Easy

    Just remember, these scones will be just as good any other time of the year, and you can use frozen or dried cranberries, no problem. To use frozen, use the same volume, and just stir them in frozen, then bake 5 minutes longer. To use dried, use 1/2 the volume and chop them coarsely, and bake the same amount of time.

    Try my Cranberry Sauced Sage-Quinoa Croquettes, or a simple blended Cranberry Maple Frappe for more delicious cranberry experiences.

    Cranberry Sweet Potato Scones

    Take a bite, cranberry sweet potato scones with crunchy streusel

    There’s tons of research on the health benefits of cranberries up at the Cranberry Institute. Suffice to say, these are some amazing berries, full of Vitamin C, polyphenols, and other phytochemicals that fight disease and cell damage. A cup of raw cranberries has 25% of the Vitamin C and 20% of the Manganese you need for a day, with a few other trace minerals.

    It’s really all about the phytochemicals, which show great promise in preventing cancer and other diseases. Anything this red has to be full of good antioxidants, and they are. There are studies showing that regular consumption of cranberries and their juice prevents heart disease, lowers cholesterol, and more.

    Cranberry Sweet Potato Scones

    Serve these to a crowd, or save them for yourself

    Cranberry Sweet Potato Scones, with or without Extras

    If you are looking to simplify, you can always make these scones without the streusel and the glaze. The sweet potato and cranberry part is exciting enough on its own. But if you want a little more crunch and curb appeal, you might as well gild the lily a little.

    I love using the cranberry juice to make the glaze, and making good use of the color of the juice. No food color needed, just natural pigments. The tangy, tart juice is perfect with the sugar, giving it just enough bite to be interesting, with very little effort.

    Cranberry Sweet Potato Scones

    You really don’t need any jam, these are already topped with extras

    You don’t have to tell anyone that these are 100% whole grain, and have all the healthy goodness of white whole wheat. There is so much going on, with cinnamon and sweet potatoes and berries, that the mildly flavored flour just steps into the background.

    Go ahead, bake some cranberry scones for the holidays.

    Maybe you’ll still be baking them next Spring!

    Cranberry Sweet Potato Scones

    Tender, sweet scones are built on a barely detectable base of white whole wheat flour, and adroned with crunchy oat streusel and cranberry juice glaze.

    Course Breakfast
    Servings 8
    Author Robin Asbell


    • 1/2 cup chilled coconut oil or organic butter


    • 1/4 cup rolled oats
    • 2 tablespoons hazelnuts toasted, peeled and chopped
    • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt

    Scone Dough

    • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or ww pastry
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
    • 1/2 cup pureed sweet potatoes
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup fresh cranberries


    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon pure cranberry juice approximately


    1. First, measure and chill the coconut oil. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

    2. Make the streusel by mixing the oats, hazelnuts, sugar, cinnamon and salt, and chill.

    3. In a large bowl, combine the white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Stir to mix.

    4. Grate the chilled coconut oil or butter into the flour mixture, tossing to coat.

    5. In a medium bowl, stir the sweet potato, maple, milk and vanilla. Stir the mixture into the flour mixture, and when it is nearly mixed in, stir in the cranberries.

    6. Lightly flour the counter, and scrape the dough onto the flour. Pat and shape into a disk about 3/4 inch thick. Cut in eight wedges, then sprinkle the streusel mixture over the wedges and pat to adhere.

    7. Carefully transfer the scones to the baking pan, leaving a 2 inch pace between wedges. Bake for 15-18 minutes, just until firm and golden around the edges. Cool on a rack.

    8. When the scones are cool, mix the powdered sugar and cranberry juice in a cup, then drizzle over the cooled scones. Let the glaze dry, then store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

    Feed America with “Goya Gives” Coconut Milk and Dig into Jamaican Rice and Peas

    Jamaican Rice and Gungo Peas

    Taste the Tropics and Give Back with Goya

    Goya Gives Back

    ‘Tis the season! This fast-moving month between Thanksgiving and the end of the year can be a flurry of shopping, cooking, and family togetherness. To make life just a little easier, I’m thrilled to bring you a chance to give a gift, simply by buying something you probably already buy. During the months of November and December, when you buy Goya brand coconut milk and coconut cream, Goya will give food to a food bank somewhere in the US. So, while you enjoy this delicious Rice and Peas recipe, or anything else you make with coconut milk, you will be feeding someone less fortunate.

    Stock Up on Coconut Milk

    It might be a good time to stock up! I know I’m always running out of coconut milk. I keep a few cans in the pantry because it’s great for Thai, Jamaican, Indian and other cookery, baking, desserts, sauces, even smoothies.

    Because I’m a Meatless Monday blogger, I was offered some Goya products to try out, and included in the package was a can of pigeon peas. In the US, you don’t hear much about pigeon peas, also known as “gullah peas,” so seeing that can prompted a very pleasant memory.

    Jamaican Memories

    Several years ago, we made a trip to Negril, Jamaica, at Christmastime. Of course, in Jamaica, it’s always about 70 degrees and sunny, and the Christmas decorations look fabulous on the palm trees. The white sand beaches are gorgeous, too.

    Robin Asbell on the beach in Jamaica

    Can I help but love the foods that remind me of this place?

    I love to learn about the food whenever I travel, but in Negril, when I asked our driver, Jim, about cooking classes, he kept telling me that there were none. I kept pestering him, finally offering $100 for someone to come to our hotel, where we had a shared kitchen. The next day, he brought his girlfriend, Lovey, and together we made fresh coconut milk, callaloo, ackee, a rundown made with a fish that had been pulled from the water moments before, and of course, rice and peas.

    Jamaican food

    A Homestyle Cooking Class at the Hotel

    They told me that gungo peas are a Christmas tradition. The produce stand in front of the hotel was selling the round, green peas freshly shelled, and with a list he jotted down, I bought everything for our feast for a few bucks. We spent a lovely afternoon making coconut milk in the blender, stewing greens and frying ackee, the egg-like fruit that is served for breakfast all over Jamaica. Then we sat down to a meal of real, homemade Jamaican food, with none of the faux Jamaican dishes that the resorts served.

    It was one of the most memorable meals in a lifetime of memorable meals.

    So, when my package of Goya foods arrived, I knew I would soon be cooking up a big pot of rice and peas, with coconut milk, pigeon peas, and for a little healthy twist, short grain brown rice.

    Jamaican Rice and Peas

    Merry Christmas with Jamaican Rice and Gungo Peas

    The rice and peas we made in Negril was a little plainer than this, with no spices, just the coconut milk and rice and peas. For this one, I wanted a few more of the flavors that were in the rest of the meal, so I added fresh turmeric, a jalapeno, a tomato, some garlic and ginger. Using brown rice meant it cooked longer, so I stirred the peas in after it was cooked, so they wouldn’t get mushy.

    You could build this into a full meal with my Jamaican Curried Greens.


    Jamaican Rundown Greens

    Jamaican Rundown Greens

    I hope you’ll give my rice and peas a try, and buy some Goya coconut milk and coconut cream. I feel a little bit warmer inside after eating a meal that feeds others.

    Especially when it reminds me of warm and sunny Jamaica.

    Goya Gives Back

    Here’s more info on the promotion:

    *For every can of GOYA® Coconut Milk and GOYA® Cream of Coconut purchased from 11/1/17 – 12/31/17, Goya Foods, as part of their “Goya Gives” initiative, will donate an average of 4 oz. of Goya food products to Feeding America® to help provide balanced meals to food banks nationwide. Guaranteed minimum donation of 600,000 pounds from this offer combined with similar offers during the period 6/1/17-5/31/18. Learn more about Feeding America and how it supports local food banks at

    Jamaican Rice and Gullah Peas

    Try a tropical twist on Christmas with this lush, coconut-laced rice and pea dish. If you can't find pigeon peas, use kidney beans.

    Course Main Course
    Servings 4
    Author Robin Asbell


    • 4 scallions white and green parts separated
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic chopped
    • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger chopped
    • 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric chopped
    • 1 large jalapeno chopped
    • 1 large tomato chopped
    • 1 cup short grain brown rice
    • 1 15 ounce can Goya coconut milk
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 15 ounce can pigeon peas drained
    • cilantro for garnish


    1. Chop the white parts of the scallions, chop the green parts and save for the end. In a 2 quart pot, warm the olive oil over medium high heat and add the white parts of the scallions, stir for a few seconds, then add the garlic. Stir. Add the ginger, turmeric, jalapeno and tomato and stir until the jalapeno is slightly softened, about a minute.

    2. Add the rice and stir, then add the coconut milk, water and salt and stir, then raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 35 minutes.

    3. Uncover, and if the rice is tender, stir in the peas and reserved scallion greens. Cover and let steam for about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro.

    Try Sushi for Thanksgiving-With Wild Rice, Sweet Potatoes, and Apple!

    Maple Roasted Sweet Potato, Wild Rice and Hazelnut Sushi for Thanksgiving

    Shake up Thanksgiving with Sushi!

    Try Thanksgiving Sushi, Really

    Last week, I posted an updated Shepherd’s Pie, with a few delicious tweaks that made it oh so delicious. This week, I’m giving you a Thanksgiving option that might seem a little bit radical. Are you ready for Thanksgiving Sushi?

    Before you hit the brakes, let me tell you just what qualifies this sushi to serves as an appetizer or side at this most hide-bound and traditional of meals. First, the sushi rice is laced with wild rice, a Thanksgiving regular. Inside the roll, you have sweet potatoes that have been roasted in a maple syrup and soy sauce glaze. Then there are crisp apples alongside. To take it a step further, a dab of sage-laced mayonnaise, and crunchy roasted hazelnuts complete the theme.

    Are you with me? Good.

    If you are sharing a meal with people who love sushi, or just a bunch of people who like a little something different, this could be your new tradition.


    Thanksgiving Sushi

    You Can Make Simple, Round Rolls, Too

    It’s still sushi, with vinegar-laced, tender sushi rice, nori, and the usual dipping sauces and condiments. Trust, me, all the flavors work together. I love the snap of the honeycrisp apples and toasty hazelnut chunks.

    Thanksgiving Sushi

    Arrange Your Sushi Like a Flower

    Sushi may seem intimidating, but don’t worry. You can make it at home. I did use an bamboo rolling mat, or takisu, to make the rolls, and then shape the roll into petal forms. It’s such an easy trick, once I show people at my sushi classes, they get it right away. If you don’t have a mat, you can use plastic wrap to form the roll, too.

    One caveat: you do need to use real, hand harvested wild rice for the filling. It cooks in the same amount of time as sushi rice, so you can cook them together. If you must use cultivated wild rice, cook it separately and fold it in. But seriously, the real thing is worth seeking out.

    Thanksgiving Sushi with Hazelnuts

    Pretty Little Sushi Rolls for Thanksgiving

    Have a great holiday meal, no matter what you serve. This sushi would be a perfect meal for the week after, too!

    Thanksgiving Vegan Sushi

    It’s Easy to Make Your Sushi Into Petal Shapes

    Thanksgiving Sushi with Wild Rice, Sweet Potatoes, and Apple

    Ditch those tired sweet potato sides, and try roasting slices of sweet potato with maple, tamari and sesame oil, then rolling it in sushi with wild rice, hazelnuts, and crisp apple.


    • 12 ounces sweet potato a small one
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
    • 1 tablespoon tamari
    • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
    • 1 1/2 cups sushi rice
    • 1/2 cup real wild rice
    • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 1 teaspoon ground sage
    • 1 large honeycrisp
    • 6 nori sheets
    • 1/2 cup hazelnuts toasted, skinned and chopped
    • wasabi, pickled ginger, soy sauce for dipping


    1. Put the sushi rice into a bowl of cold water and swirl and swish until the water turns white, then pour off the water, drain well. Put washed rice, wild rice and 2 1/4 cups water in pot on stove and bring to a simmer. Stir and cover, lower heat. Cook 15 minutes, until water is absorbed; stir, cover, and cool. Stir together vinegar and sugar, stir into rice.
    2. While rice is cooking, heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice sweet potato into long french fry shapes, toss with maple, tamari and sesame oil on a sheet pan. Roast uncovered for 15 minutes, then turn the strips and bake for 20 minutes longer, until tender when pierced with a paring knife. Remove to rack to cool.
    3. Slice the apple into 1/2 inch thick batons, about the same size as the sweet potato pieces. Mix the mayo with sage in a small cup.
    4. To assemble, place a sheet of nori on a bamboo rolling mat. spread 3/4 cup cooked rice on each sheet of nori, leaving a strip about 1 inch wide along the top edge exposed. Sprinkle hazelnuts over the rice. Smear a teaspoon of mayonnaise across the bottom of the rice. Lay two rows of strips of sweet potato on the bottom third of the rice, place a couple rows of apple. Brush water on exposed nori. Roll up with even pressure, lay with seam side down to seal.
    5. To make the flower petal shape, use the mat to shape by pressing down on one side after you've made the roll, using the mat to create the angle down to a point.
    6. Let sit to firm up for a few seconds, then slice with moistened serrated knife into 6 to 8 slices per roll. Arrange each on a plate. Sprinkle hazelnuts over the slices, and garnish with wasabi, pickled ginger, and shoyu or tamari for dipping.











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