Around The Table: Alimentary Autumn
The autumnal equinox was September 22 this year. The grocery stores are displaying pumpkins of various shapes, sizes and colors. There is a scarecrow on our porch and sunflowers on the front door wreath. The calendar depicts a lovely landscape in orange and gold colors of fall foliage….. somewhere other than Texas which has cooled off into the high 80s during the day and 60s or 70s at night (perfect for picnics, evening walks with my sweetie, and tailgaiting those home games, right ?).
Cookies, stews, and other comfort foods float deliciously through my thoughts as I anticipate cooler weather. Keeping the upcoming meals alimentary (an unfortunately neglected word meaning nourishing and nutritious) is a task warmly embraced in our home. We want the array of friends gathering around our table for fellowship and fun to be relaxed and enjoy the cozy feeling of friendship rather than concern over what they are consuming so we are turning our minds toward some recipes that can be shared by those avoiding gluten or dairy, balancing their protein and carbs, watching their sugar and salt intakes, etc.
Cassava flour, sweet potato, white potato, or butternut are replacing wheat in most of our baking recipes, gumbo, stews, shepard’s pie, and providing a lot more nutrition. I would love to try out some tigernut (vegetable) flour, too. Lemon/ginger/honey tea (please add tumeric to mine) will be ready to handle any sore or scratchy throats and boost our immune systems while providing loads of flavor. Ginger, basil, and chamomile teas will be ready to settle upset tummies. A tablespoon of local honey usually soothes any cough we have, so I have restocked the pantry with that.
Here are a few recipes to share with you. Feel free to modify any recipe as best fits your family’s tastes and nutritional needs.
Ginger/Lemon Tea On Hand
(I often slice a little ginger and lemon into a small skillet to boil a few cups on the stove. It makes the whole house smell yummy; but we also like to keep some on hand for convenience and to give to neighbors who complain of seasonal sore throats.)
1 – 2 Fresh ginger root, washed and peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices (or chunks, if you prefer)
3-4 Fresh small lemons, washed and sliced
Filtered water (provides a cleaner flavor without chemical aftertaste)
Several glass mason jars with lids, washed/sterilized
Wash and slice the fresh ginger root and lemon. Place equal amounts of ginger and lemon to fill up the glass jars. Pour water over the contents, then screw on the lids. Let sit on the counter (or refrigerate, if you prefer) for several days so the juices permeate the water. The longer it sits, the stronger the tea should become. We pour the desired amount into a cup and drink it hot when soothing a scratchy throat or cough, cool as a refreshing lemonade. We sometimes add honey to sweeten or tumeric to boost our immune system and decrease any inflammation.
1 packaged (usually 1 lb) of grated cassava
1/2 teaspoon (or less) vanilla or maple syrup or agave or lemon juice
1/2 cup -1 cup brown sugar (less if using syrup or agave)
1/2 cup – 1 cup water (less if using syrup or agave or lemon, more if using sugar. It depends how thick you prefer your pie)
1 egg or replacer (optional – honestly, it depends on the texture you want. I usually skip this)
Pie shell (optional – If we want one, I make it by replacing the wheat flour in the recipe with cassava flour. There are pre-packaged pie shells as well as packages of mixes for pie shells, both gluten-free and regular, available in stores.)
Blueberries or cherries for topping (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into your pie shell, if desired. I usually pour into small Pyrex bowls for individual servings or I line a large Pyrex dish (round or rectangular) with parchment paper and make a few small cuts in the paper to help it conform to the shape of the pan. I use parchment paper for most eggless baking, since it tends to improve the texture of the finished product, as well as easy clean-up. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until firm. Top with fruit if desired. Enjoy hot or cold.
Meat (or Meatless) Pies
1 pound of ground or diced meat of your choice or shredded jackfruit (for vegan/vegetarian diet), cooked and seasoned to your family’s taste (salt, basil, cilantro, etc.)
1/2 pound of carrots, washed, peeled, cooked until soft (3-4 large carrots or 1/2 small bag of baby carrots)
4-5 potatoes or one butternut squash, washed and cooked until soft (white or sweet potatoes, as you prefer)
3-4 tomatoes, washed and diced (those following a low histamine diet may prefer green tomatoes)
1 can of water chestnuts, drained, and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, washed, peeled, chopped (red or yellow, your choice)
1-2 bell peppers, washed, seeded, chopped (yellow is preferred for low histamine diet)
1/2 bunch asparagus, washed, steamed, chopped
1 package of mushrooms (your favorite kind)
1 head (washed and chopped) or 1 package of frozen cauliflower, cooked and “riced”
Pie crust or tortilla recipe of choice
If making hand held meat pies, prepare your pie crust according to your recipe. (I make cassava flour tortillas for my family, fill with 1-2 tablespoons of meat mixture above, and bake on parchement lined cookie sheets in the oven at 350 F for 12-15 minutes or until crust is crisp.
For shephard’s pie, I pour the meat and vegetables into a casserole dish. I season the mashed potato or butternut squash (salt, olive oil) and spread on top of the meat/vegetable mixture then bake in the oven at 350 F – 400 F for 30 minutes or until the “crust” is browned.
Cook and drain the meat or jackfruit. Season the meat as you best enjoy. Cook and chop the vegetables. Mash the potatoes or butternut squash with the oil and any remaining water the vegetables were cooked in (as it is now a nutritious broth) and add more if needed to maintain a mashed potato texture. Mix the meat or jackfruit, seasoning, and all vegetables together in a large bowl or skillet.
We recommend steaming the asparagus first, then using the same water to cook the carrots, then the potatoes. As each vegetable is cooked, the vitamins and nutrients enrich the remaining water to create a nutritious broth. (More water can be added as needed.)
All vegetables in the recipe are optional. You may omit or change any vegetables. We enjoy changing spinach or kale, instead of bell pepper. Sometimes, we prefer a more simple dish of meat, potatoes, and onion in the meat pies with a salad on the side.
Right now, our family is about to celebrate autumn with some crisp pumpkin shaped tea cakes and some spicy ginger/honey tea! Why don’t you pull up a chair and join us ?
This article is not meant to diagnose nor recommend treatments for allergies or illnesses. As always, check with your health care provider to be sure that you are eating foods that are beneficial to you and your family, especially when there are certain dietary needs in your family.