Tag Archives: Sweet potato

Baking with Vegetables: Pumpkin Muffins and Sweet Potato Brownies

21 Nov

My original thought for making a vegetable-added brownie was to make a beet brownie.  I eventually will, but I had a sweet potato to use.
Sweet potatoes in particular add sweetness to the brownies such that less sugar is necessary.  I also had to make pumpkin muffins because I had yet to make them this fall, though they are one of the things I most look forward to making in the fall and winter.  The pumpkin muffins are inspired by the Yammy Muffins recipe from the Sustainable Food Center’s The Happy Kitchen cookbook, which I’m currently doing some recipe testing for.  I changed up that recipe quite a bit, reducing the amount of sugar, increasing the pumpkin, eliminating the oil, and using pumpkin in place of sweet potato.  Overall, using vegetables in baking adds moisture so that less oil and eggs are necessary, and in the case of beets and sweet potatoes, adds sweetness so that you don’t need to add so much sugar.  Of course, there’s also the added nutrition factor.

Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinammon

1/2 cup barley malt syrup

1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk will do)

1 15-oz. can pumpkin

2 T ground flax mixed with 6 T water, or 2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers, or dab some vegetable oil or butter in the cups to keep the muffins from sticking.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In another smaller bowl combine the pumpkin, flax mixture or eggs, vanilla, barley malt, and almond milk.  Then, mix the dry and wet ingredients together, until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Evenly distribute muffin batter in the muffin pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Sweet Potato Brownies

Ingredients

4 T (1/2 stick) butter or non-hydrogenated margarine (I think coconut oil would be good here too, though I haven’t tried it yet.)

1  4-ounce bar of 100% cacao chocolate (I used Ghiradelli brand)

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

About 1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)

1 T ground flax mixed with 3 T water, or 1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Peel the sweet potato, cut into chunks, and boil until tender.  (Another alternative is to cut a few slits in the potato and microwave until it’s cooked, usually about 10 minutes.)  Mash in a medium bowl.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Melt the butter with the chocolate bar in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium low heat until completely melted.  Stir during the process to facilitate the combining of the butter and chocolate.

Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) together in a small bowl.  Mix the flax mixture or egg with the sweet potato, vanilla, and sugar.  Add the chocolate mixture, then add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Place in a square 8×8 pan, or a loaf pan for thicker brownies (that’s what I did).  Bake for about 25 minutes.  The brownies will be very fudgy, not cakey.

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Roasted Beets and Sweet Potatoes with Lentils, Arugula, and Goat Cheese

1 Nov

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I may be about to expand your definition of a salad.  This one contains lentils, vegetables, and arugula, and has no dressing.  A vinaigrette dressing would be good here, but I didn’t find it necessary at all–the salad has plenty of flavor without a dressing.  I like to experiment with salads combining lentils or beans, a type of grain, an herb or green leafy vegetable like spinach, and vegetables or fruit.  For example, I recently made a salad with millet (an underused grain a lot of people are unfamiliar with except as it applies to bird seed), black beans, cilantro, mango, and a red wine vinaigrette dressing.  Yum!

Salads that contain legumes, grains, veggies, fruits, and the like are great for a main dish, unlike a salad composed of mostly lettuce.  The legumes, in this case the lentils, are very satisfying and keep you full for a while.  It’s really a great lunch dish–easy to pack and you don’t even have to heat it up if you don’t want to.

It’s getting colder, and this time of year root vegetables come in season.  Root vegetables include beets, sweet potatoes,  potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, and others.  In this salad, I used beets and sweet potatoes because I happened to have sweet potato and because I am trying to find more ways to eat beets.  However, you can use any one root vegetable or a combination of 2 or more.  I like the beets and sweet potatoes in this salad, because they are sweet and pair nicely with the hearty lentils.  Lentils are easier to cook than other types of beans–no need to pre-soak, and they take less than 30 minutes to cook.

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Lentils are charming.  I really think I like them better than just about any other legume.  For this recipe, I used green lentils, aka standard lentils.  There are other varieties you can use as well, but don’t use red lentils.  They are smaller, thinner, and lose their shape in a hurry.  They literally turn to mush after 30 minutes in a boiling pot of water, and are much better suited to making a soup, like Indian daal.

So, for the ingredients and amounts:

2 medium sweet potatoes

3 medium beets

Or…a combination of other roots to equal about the same weight (2 lbs, give or take a little) Carrots and blue potatoes would be a fun combo for a salad like this too.

1 cup dried green lentils

About 4 cups of water for cooking the lentils

Salt and pepper to taste

3 big handfuls of fresh arugula (baby spinach is a good substitute)

2 oz. goat cheese

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Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil, toss in the lentils, turn the heat down to medium, and cook covered for about 30 minutes.  Do not salt the lentils until after they cook.  Salt hardens beans and they take much longer to cook if they are salted.   You may make the lentils ahead of time if you like.  Once cooked, uncover and remove lentils from heat to cool. Then, drain the liquid using a strainer.  Add salt to taste.

Peel and chop the beets and sweet potatoes.  Mostly uniform pieces are important here–if you have giant pieces and small pieces together, the big pieces will take much longer to cook.  Exactness is unimportant, but basic uniformity is your goal.  Check out the sweet potatoes:

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Wear an apron and know that your cutting board will be stained when you handle the beets.  I love beets, but they stain everything.  A photo of beet surgery:

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Once your vegetables are chopped, place them in a medium mixing bowl and toss with a few pinches of salt, pepper, and the olive oil.

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Then, spread on a cookie sheet.

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Bake for about 35-40 minutes.  The beets won’t be as tender as the sweet potatoes, but will still be easy to pierce with a fork.  Then, mix the vegetables with the lentils.  Stir in the arugula and top with the goat cheese.  Taste and add salt if necessary.