Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and FigsThe number on producer of sweet potatoes in the United States alone, is the state of North Carolina, planting and harvesting more than 40% of the national supply.

3 popular sweet potato varieties sold at market

Image Credit: Saveur Magazine

The website for the sweet potato industry, North Carolina Sweet Potatoes say that the list of sweet potato varieties changes rapidly and new varieties are released almost annually.

The most popular varieties sold at your local market are, Covington Sweet Potato, O’Henry Sweet Potato, and the Japanese Sweet Potato.

The popular food magazine, also found on line, Saveur says that shopping for sweet potatoes, particularly during the Thanksgiving holiday (USA), you can came across a surprising range of varieties, 16 to be exact.

They go on to say that a consumer can find both heirlooms and new hybrids alike, all which are being grown in the United States.

Our feature recipe – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs – uses three different types of sweet potatoes, which are the speckled purple sweet potato, which is named because of their flecked magenta flesh.

An heirloom variety with pale orange skin and flesh, and not to forget the Hannahs varity which has tan skin and an off-white interior. When roasted the flesh takes on a yellow cast, a lightly sweet flavor, and a dry texture.

Here is what you will need to prepare – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs in your own kitchen.

2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, different colors

5 tablespoons olive oil

Himalayan salt and fresh black pepper to taste

6 dried figs

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 peeled coins fresh ginger

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons dark balsamic vinegar

12 scallions or green onions (white and green parts), cut into 1 1/2 inch segments

1 red chili,halved, seeded, thinly sliced

My mother had two fig trees in her garden, both a black and green variety. Fresh figs can be very fragile, and need to be eaten within a day or two of harvesting. We used dried figs in our recipe because they are just as versatile as fresh figs when re-hydrated.

Read more here about the Benefits Of Figs Help Fight Against Common Ailments.

Recipes directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Scrub potatoes and slice each one into wedges.

roasted sweet potatoesToss wedges with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, s teaspoons of Himalayan salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle and roast until soft, about 25 minutes.

rehydrating fdried figs with lemon zest, juice, sugar and fresh gingerMeanwhile, place the dried figs in a medium saucepan with lemon zest, juice, ginger, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cover with fresh water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until figs return to plump fig pose.

dried figs rehydratedScoop figs from saucepan with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels. Let dry, and quarter the figs, cutting away the stems.

In a small saucepan, stir together the balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Figs - close upArrange roasted sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a sauce pan and heat. place in onions, and chili. Fry for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Spoon the oil, onions, and chili over the sweet potatoes.

Nestle the figs among the wedges and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Suggested to serve at room temperature.

Ginger and Lemon Juice WaterMaybe you are wondering what to do with the water solution that was used to dehydrate the figs? Put it into your Nutri-Bullet or blender, and blend for about 30 to 40 seconds and drink down a nutritious anti-inflammatory drink.

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How To Spice Things Up When Cooking

Large collection of metal bowls full of herbs and spices -How To Spice Things Up When CookingHerbs and spices are used to enhance the flavor of food, either it be for cooking spaghetti carbonara or baking an apple pie.

An herb or spice can be a seed, fruit, root, bark, berry, bud or leafy part of the plant. They are principally used for flavoring food among other uses. They can be used fresh or dried.

Herbs And Spices Through The Ages

It is said that by the Middle Ages, the most common spices and herbs being traded and used were black pepper, cinnamon (including the alternative cassia), cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

Herbs and spices are useful for many things, among others are medicinal uses, cosmetic or perfume production uses, and of course they are used add flavor to a meal.

By 1000 B.C. medical systems based upon herbs were found in China, Korea, and India. Also the Egyptians used herbs and spices for their embalming practices and their demand for exotic herbs and spices helped stimulate world trade.

Extracting A Spices Flavor

The flavor of an herb or spice is derived by exposing the volatile oil compounds of the seed or leafy part, that oxidize or evaporate when it comes in contact with air.

As an example, fresh ginger is usually more flavorful than its dried form, but fresh spices are more expensive and have a much shorter shelf life.

Flavor of herbs and spices can be maximized by storing them whole and grinding when needed, as grinding greatly increases its surface area and so increases the rates of oxidation and evaporation.

If you decide to use dried spices, be sure to use them within 6 to 8 months of purchase. Ground spices are better stored away from light, as it also increases the oxidation of the volatile oils.

metal bowls filled with spices

How To Use Herbs And Spices

When using herbs and spices you’ll want to pick flavors that complement each other, such as the spice mix known as “pumpkin pie spice.” The ratios of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg add great flavor to the pie, and each spice doesn’t over power the other.

The key or rule of thumb to spicing things up is that less is more. Avoid adding too much all at once. Instead, add a little at a time and add more to taste.

A good example of over spicing and unable to fix it, is when you use oregano or cloves. Their volital oils are great for flavoring culinary and pastry dishes, but they are strong in flavor, and only require a small amount.

When using spices to flavor your meat or vegetables, use only 3 different types at a time. You can even use herbs and spice to replace salt. Choose your spice or spices, add a little lemon juice and unsalted butter.

Which spices pair well together for the best culinary dishes you can make? Let’s examine some of the most commonly used spices and which spices pair well with them.

Gluten Free Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Gluten Free Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin PieWe had a small sugar pie pumpkin that was given to us around the middle of November (2015), and I just got around to roasting it. We took too long to get to it, but the pumpkin flesh was still good. After roasting it, we were able to get 30 ounce of puree, which is equal to two 15 ounce store bought cans. collage of Roasted PumpkinWe needed to see how good the puree would taste, so it could be used to make either some pies, pumpkin bread or cookies, and even a pumpkin cheesecake. After roasting and pureeing the pumpkin, we wanted to taste the flavor of the flesh, so we mixed some with real maple syrup and some pecan pieces, and wow it was very tasty.

fresh pumpkin puree with real maple syrup and pecan pieces

Better Homes and Garden Novemeber 2015 issueThe pumpkin pie recipe we decided to make with 15 ounce of the puree was adapted from Better Homes and Gardens November 2015 issue.

gluten free pie shell packagingWe did change the recipe a bit, as we used a gluten free pie shell.

What makes this pumpkin pie a Mexican chocolate pie is the use of Cayenne and smoked paprika.

No need to worry as it is not spicy.

Here is what you will need to prepare your own: Gluten Free Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.

3 ounces dark chocolate (original recipe calls for 1 3.1 ounce disc of Mexican chocolate)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup coconut sugar (original recipe calls for 3/4 cup packed brown sugar)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika ( original recipe called for milk chili powder)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (we used our fresh roasted pumpkin puree)

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup half and half or light cream

Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)

Bake pie crust according to packaged instructions.

For pie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a small sauce pan heat chocolate and butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, just until melted, then set aside to cool.

pumpkin pie mixIn a large bowl combine coconut sugar, pie spice, salt, and chili powders. Stir in pumpkin puree and eggs until combined. Next gradually stir in half and half until combined.

stirring in pumpkin pie mix with melted chocolateStir 1 1/2 cups of the pumpkin mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture, then pour into pie crust.

second layer of Gluten Free Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin PieNext pour remaining pumpkin mixture over chocolate layer.

Bake for 60 minutes or until center appears set. Cool pie, then chill within 2 hours.

Chocolate Ganache

simmered cream cinamon and shaved dark chocolateIn a small bowl add 3 ounces of shaved dark chocolate and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. In a small sauce pot bring 1/4 cup cream to a simmer, and pour over shaved chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.

Gluten Free Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin PieSpoon Chocolate Ganache over pie, then add shaved dark chocolate and some powdered chili.

Slice Of  Gluten Free Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin PieServe a piece of Gluten Free Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, and enjoy!!

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Roasted Chicken Breast With Ginger Carrot Salad

Roasted Chicken Breast With Ginger Carrot Salad - close upWith chicken breasts on hand that are skinless, and boneless , you can always have something quick and satisfying to eat for dinner. Whether you grill, boil, pouch or roast, there will always be an easy chicken breast recipe for any occasion.

roasting skinless, boneless chicken breasts with coconut oilBoneless chicken breasts are a go to fresh meat choice for any time-pressed home cook and their kitchen because they’re quicker to cook than bone-in chicken breasts.

Brushing the chicken breasts with a cooking oil (preferably olive, coconut, or avocado oils) or marinade before roasting or broiling helps prevent the chicken breasts from drying out.

For a quick lunch or dinner, it is really easy to incorporate chicken breast into salads, or pastas (Link here for ideas using chicken and leafy greens as: Salads as a Main Course).

We have the roasted chicken breast recipe, and all you have to do is choose the occasion. Our featured recipe is, Roasted Chicken Breast With Ginger Carrot Salad. Just 45 minutes from start to finish, and here is what you will need.

4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless

3-4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

3 medium rainbow carrots shredded, one each: yellow, purple, orange

1/2 cup dried cherries

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1/4 ginger cilantro dressing, best choice is Paleo Chef

Boston Lettuce leaves, about 8 pieces

melted coconut oil Slice breasts into two’s horizontally. Melt coconut oil (it is bought solid, but melts above 76 degrees), and place into a 13 X 9 glass baking dish.

chicken breasts coated with coconut oilNext coat chicken in oil on both sides. You will note that the coconut oil will solidify once again on the cold chicken breasts, as they are colder than 76 degrees.

Place baking dish in to oven on middle rack and roast for 10 minutes, than turn breasts and roast another 10 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees internal temperature.

heating shredded carrots and dried cherries in hot water

While cooking the chicken, you can prepare the salad. Boil some water in a small pot, about 2 cups. Place shredded carrots and dried cherries into a medium glass mixing bowl, and add boiling water. Set aside for 3 minutes.

rinsing shredded carrots and dried cherries under running water Next drain water and rinse carrots and cherries in a colander under running water, and pplace produce back into the glass bowl.

Carrot Ginger Salad

Next add the chopped cilantro with the 1/4 cup of Ginger Cilantro dressing (by Paleo Chef), and mix together. Set aside.

Roasted Chicken Breast With Ginger Carrot SaladNext plate a piece of Boston lettuce leaf, and place piece of chicken breast on top. Then top the chicken breast with the ginger carrot salad, and enjoy!!

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Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing

Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig DressingFigs are a fruit native to Italy and Greece. The fruit is available in both fresh and dried forms, and they offer a nutritional advantages due to their nutrient content.

Are you worried about the appearance of your skin? Figs are rich in nutrients that build and maintain healthy looking skin. The nutrients include B-complex, vitamin-C, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium, which are all essential nutrients for boosting and rejuvenating the skin’s health. Figs contain high amounts omega-3 fatty acids which helps to keep skin moisturized and conditioned.

Rubbing fresh figs on your face and allowing it to dry can help cure acne.

Fig leaves are also used is used for skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo (loss of pigment color). The milky sap from the tree is used to treat skin tumors and warts, when applied directly to the skin.

Research with the chemicals found in the leaves of the fig tree reports that a tea made from fig leaves could help use insulin more efficiently and reduce insulin requirements in people with type 1 diabetes. It also helps to lower blood sugar levels after eating (WebMD).

Let’s enjoy the healthy benefits of figs as well as their natural sweetness with our featured recipe: Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing. Here is what you will need.

Bellas Blackberry and Fig Dressing6 black figs, stemmed , cut in half

1 small eggplant, sliced

1 cup fresh blackberries

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

4 cups mix tender leafy greens (can mix spring greens with some spicy greens)

1/2 cup goat cheese

1/3 cup pecan pieces

1 jar Bella’s Blackberry and Fig Balsamic Dressing (3 to 5 tablespoons each plated salad)

sliced eggplant and figsThe eggplant we used is a long narrow purple and white Asian eggplant. According to Grow Organic, they are a “new” eggplant on the garden scene, though it is a much older Asian variety. They are long and narrow, and come in a variety of colors including white, purple, magenta and green (Grow Organics).

Slice the eggplant into 1 inch slices, and cut the figs into two.

olive oil coated sliced eggplant and figsIn a large mixing bowl, add the oil, salt, and slice produce and toss until coated.

on the bbq - grilling eggplant and figs

bbq grilled eggplant and figsNext place a piece of tin foil on to a BBQ grill, and heat BBQ until hot.

Place figs and eggplant on to hot grill, and turn after 2 minuets.

After turning  you should hear the figs make a pop noise (skins are bursting slightly), about 1 minute, then remove from grill and set aside.

Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing- detailed close upNext, per plate add two hand fulls of leafy greens. Top with grilled eggplant, figs and blackberries. Next sprinkle on cheese and nuts. Now splash 3 to 5 tablespoons of balsamic dressing (about 1/4 cup or 2 ounce). You can purchase the dressing at your favorite market if available, and if not, you can find it at the Whole Foods Market.

The number of eggplant and fig pieces, including berries you place on each plated salad will determine how many salads you will be preparing.

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Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole

Brussels sprouts look like mini-cabbages more than anything are packed with vitamins and minerals that support a healthy immune system. Their highly nutritious, and extremely versatile in preparation with a number of different recipes.

With a variety of options for how to add them to your diet, you won’t ever get bored with these perfectly crafted vegetables made by nature for you.

brussels sproutsWhat Are Brussels Sprouts?

These little cabbages are grown for their edible buds and may have gotten their name from Brussels, Belgium, where they are believed to have originated and are highly popular. Ancestors of the modern Brussels sprout were most likely cultivated in ancient Rome, but the sprouts we know and love today were likely grown as early as the 13th century in Belgium (Wikipedia).

Nutrition of Brussels Sprouts

They are a small round leafy vegetable, and are packed with phytonutrients, including protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

brussels sprouts in the gardenThe vitamins include, vitamin C and K , some B-complex vitamins, like B-6, and folate. The minerals include, trace amounts of selenium, copper, zinc and manganese, iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

Brussels sprouts are also a great source of vitamin A, which is an antioxidant required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin, and promoting optimal eye health, reducing the risk of macular degeneration.

They can also cause gas and bloating if eaten raw, as they have an enzyme that is difficult to digest. Cooking them breaks this enzyme down and the nutrition of the vegetable becomes more bio-available to the body.

Brussels Spouts and Cancer

Vegetables rich with vitamins A and C have shown to offer protection against some cancers such as oral cavity, and lung cancer. The extent of cancer-protection in Brussels sprouts is still widely researched, but findings hint that this vegetable among others, can help fight cancer causing agents, as well cleansing the body of toxins.

Preparing Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts can be roasted in the oven, used in stir-fry’s, shredded and used in salads, added to soups, casseroles, pasta dishes, and used as garnish around poultry and fish.

There is really no right or wrong way to prepare them!

Now that we have your taste buds going, let’s present our featured recipe: Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole, and here is what you will need.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole

1 – 8 ounce package, cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sour cream

1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter (or coconut butter)

1 ½ pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, ends cut off

Optional to use 2 packages – 10 ounces each of frozen Brussels sprouts, thawed and drained

3/4 cup shredded cheese, your choice, cheddar, Monterey, Mozzarella, goat cheese, or any hard cheese

Heat Oven to 350 degrees

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté mushrooms and onion in butter until tender. Stir in Brussels sprouts. Remove from the heat and stir in cream cheese mixture.

Grease a 2 quart baking dish, and spoon mixture in spreading out evenly.

Cover dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Make 6-8 servings

Enjoy as a stand alone dish, or as a side dish with your favorite meat recipe.

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More Brussels sprouts recipes here at Splendid Recipes and More…

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Warm Brussels sprouts and Dilled Potato Salad

Brown Butter and Brussels Sprout with Fennel

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Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

If you enjoy Asian food and Latin food alike, this recipe can be considered an infusion of the two. Only for the fact that the butter lettuce is used like a taco.

This recipe is very simple and easy to prepare, and is bursting with Asian flavor. We used tapioca starch in place of cornstarch, which we feel is a better choice. Another great cornstarch replacement is arrowroot.

The recipe contains coconut, in the form of oil and dried coconut meat. Coconut oil, though it contains saturated fat, also has fat in the form of lauric acid, about 50%. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and antiprotozal properties.

Tips on Choosing the Lettuce

Butter lettuce is great to use with this recipe for its tenderness, and texture. Choose the leaves that are the largest, and most pliable. Be sure the leaf is not wilted or has and discoloring on it.

Let’s get stated with preparing our featured recipe: Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and here is what you will need.

12 leaves of butter lettuce

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1 pound chicken breast or chicken thigh strips (option to also use ground meat)

2 medium green onions, chopped

½ cup canned water chestnuts, drained, rinsed, and chopped

¼ cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

1 tablespoon tapioca starch

2 tablespoons filtered water

¼ cup gomasio (sesame seeds and sea salt) – recipe to follow

1/2 cup dried fine flacked unsweetened coconut meat

First make your gomasio.

Recipe for Gomasio

2 cups whole sesame seeds

1 tablespoon Himalayan salt

Place sesame seeds in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Roast for 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until seeds turn golden brown.

Place sesame seeds and salt in a suribachi or mortar and pestle, and grind into a coarse meal. A coffee grinder will work as well.

When cooled, transfer to a glass container.

Store in refrigerator. Keeps for 6-8 weeks.

Gomasio is the principal table condiment in the Macrobiotic diet. Use it in place of table salt to season your food, giving it a hearty delicious taste.

According to Macrodiet.com, gomasio also functions as a medicine in itself, due to its powerful ant-acid biochemical effect–a thousand times more effective than AlkaSeltzer. They state you can use 1/2 to l teaspoonful placed directly into the mouth,  and suck on it well, before swallowing, as it strengthens digestion and improves energy.

Because the gomasio uses Himalayan salt (Celtic or sea salt can be used as well), it contains all of the vital trace minerals like (but not limit too) calcium, potassium, and magnesium, making it a natural anti-acid for the stomach. Table salt will not work, as it only contains sodium.

Preparing Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Wash lettuce leaves gently so as not to damage or tear them. Drain the lettuce in a clean colander or on clean paper towels for a few minutes before using.

Heat the coconut oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chicken stripes and sauté until oblique in color.

vegetable ingredients for Coconut Chicken Lettuce WrapsNext add the green onions, water chestnuts, tamari, and chicken broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Mix the tapioca with water and add to chicken mixture. Cook over medium high heat, until the sauce thickens.

Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Transfer chicken mixture to a serving bowl set on a large platter and sprinkle with the gomasio and mix in. Top with the dried coconut meat on top. Next arrange the butter lettuce leaves on the platter around the bowl.

plated - Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Each person takes a lettuce leaf and spoons some of the chicken mixture on to it, and grabs the butter lettuce with meat mixture like a wrap of taco style.

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