Friday, November 21, 2008

What do dietitians eat? Book club menu #5

This menu comes complete with photos because I didn’t cool anything on the counter to prevent doggie food stealing (my vet used that terminology), and I remembered to take photos before we ate. We have now had to put childproof locks on two cupboard doors where we put our kitchen trash to keep our dog from demonstrating her new bad habit (and we don't even have meat scraps!)

We enjoyed having our first “guest of honor” at dinner, Amanda Edmunds, the Executive Director of Growing Hope in Ypsilanti, MI, where our group makes a monthly donation that is used to purchase the healthy snacks for the youth who participate in Growing Hope’s after-school programs. Amanda gave us the history of the development of Growing Hope, plans and challenges for the future, along with it successes to date.

We had hoped to start discussing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver but had such a lengthy and involved discussion with Amanda about the focus of Growing Hope and the long and short-term impacts of urban and community gardening (which was the focus of the journal article we read this month, too) that we’ll save a full discussion of AVM for our next meeting in January.

Here is our menu for November (again using as many foods from our own garden or the local Farmers’ Market as possible):
• Apple and Kale Spice Muffins (still harvesting kale from our garden, even though we have had many days of very cold weather and snow, apples were from a neighbor’s tree)
• No-knead Whole Wheat Bread
• Roasted Acorn Squash Soup w/squash seed garnish (squash from a local farmer)
• Fall kale and leafy greens salad w/pomegranate seeds (the pomegranate seeds are not local but they are seasonal - enjoy a few as a special treat at this time of year) - you can see the ice on our kale in this photo, which only makes it sweeter!
• Water with lemon and hot green-raspberry tea (tea from


Muffins cooling first on the counter and then on top of the refrigerator (if our dog can get these, nothing is safe!)

* 1-1/2 C organic whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
* 1 tsp. each baking soda and baking powder
* ½ teaspoon salt
* ½ tsp. cinnamon
* ¼ tsp. nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon grated vanilla bean (or use ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
* ⅓ C honey
* 1 egg
* ½ C sour milk or plain unflavored yogurt (I used the yogurt)
* ⅓ C canola oil
* ½ tsp. vanilla (see above)
* 1-½ C grated apples or carrots (used cored, unpeeled apples chopped in my food processor)
* 1 C finely chopped kale or raw leafy green vegetable (I took off the stems and then chopped the leaves fine in my food processor)
* ½ C each any dried fruit and chopped nuts (optional, but adds a crunch and is also nutritious and yummy enough for a dessert muffin, too!)

Preheat oven to 400.

In a mixing bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

In another bowl, mix honey, egg, yogurt, oil, vanilla, apples, kale, dried fruit and nuts.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just till moistened. Fill 12 typical size greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Made 12 very full muffins.

No-Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

recipe used from

(The metric measurements are more accurate.)

• 3 cups (430 grams) whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat), plus ¼ -½ cup more for dusting
• ¼ teaspoon (1 gram) instant yeast (or ¼ plus 1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast*) - yes I cut open a package of yeast and carefully measured this amount out
• 1¼ teaspoons (8 grams) salt
• 1 ½ tablespoons vital wheat gluten
• 2 cups minus 1 tablespoon (430 grams) water (I used about 1-½ cups to mix the flour the first time and about 1-¾ cup water the second time )
• Cornmeal, ground flax, or wheat bran as needed

In a large bowl combine flour, instant yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended. Keep adding water until the dough is shaggy and sticky, like a stiff muffin batter. It should not be so wet that it’s pourable. You will probably use all of the water, but different brands of flour are more absorbent. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

*If substituting active dry yeast, let it proof in 1/4 cup of lukewarm water (reserved from the total water) for 10 minutes. Add the yeast with the rest of the water when mixing it in the dough.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Liberally flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.


Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

• 8 cups vegetable broth (homemade or use vegetable broth cubes)
• 4-5 medium acorn squash (with the more orange color on the skin, the more ripe, i.e., sweeter, the squash will be)
• Salt and white pepper (to taste)
• Olive oil
• 4 tsp whole cumin seeds (I actually used my coffee grinder to chop these up a bit to release more flavor)
• 1-2 Cinnamon stick
• ½# soft or silken tofu (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Halve the squashes, remove the seeds (save to make an extra delicious treat by washing and toasting with salt or any herb seasoning of choice).

Brush the inside of each squash half with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and cumin seeds. Roast for about 45 minutes in a shallow pan or on a cookie sheet until the squash is soft when pierced with a fork and the edges of the squash are golden.

Remove squash from oven and let cool.

While the squash cools, bring the broth to a boil.

Place the cinnamon stick in the vegetable stock and let it boil until you can smell the cinnamon.

Once squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the squash out of the skin and put it in a blender or food processor.

Remove the cinnamon stick from the stock, and pour the liquid into the blender with the squash, adding tofu if you are using it.

Blend till smooth (this much soup will need to be done in batches - be very careful not to fill the blender or food processor too full and possibly burn yourself by having hot soup spatter on you).

Serve with toasted squash seeds as a garnish, whole grain bread, and a salad of your choice - yummmmm!!

Toasted Squash Seed Garnish

Wash the seeds in a colander, removing as much of the squash “goo” as possible. Shake dry. Spread on a cookie sheet (I used a sheet of parchment paper) and sprinkling toasting with salt or any herb seasoning of choice. Bake in a 350 degree oven 15-30 minutes until dry and toasty. Be careful not to burn. I chopped the toasted seeds with various fresh herbs from my window herb garden in my small food processor. This garnish is also great sprinkled on a green salad.

I’ll close with the blessing read tonight, one specifically pertinent since it is giving thanks for a soup and all the beauty and sacredness that went into making the meal as it enriches our life.

I am an Indian,
I think about common things like this pot.
The bubbling water comes from the rain cloud.
It represents the sky.
The fire comes from the sun,
which warms us all, men, animals, trees.
The meat stands for the four-legged creatures,
our animal brothers,
who gave of themselves so that we should live.
The steam is living breath.
It was water, now it goes up to the sky,
becomes a cloud again.
These things are sacred.
Looking at that pot full of good soup,
I am thinking how, in this simple manner,
The great Spirit takes care of me.

~~ John Lame Deer (1903-1976)

During the week before Thanksgiving, I always give thanks for another year of life, my family, friends, health, joys and enrichment. The surgery for my first breast cancer was the day prior to Thanksgiving in 1984, so this year I will be giving thanks for beginning my 25th year after that very challenging time in my life (it was actually somewhat startling to “do the math” and realize that many years have passed). Of course, being a childhood cancer survivor, I have been fortunate for far more than 25 years, but still, I have started to think about how I might mark the specialness of having the gift of life for these past 25 years when I was able to be involved with my two sons growing up to be very special young men. I have not decided what or how to celebrate that milestone yet, so family, friends, and readers, if you have ideas for me, I’d love to hear them!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Anonymous said...

We missed you so much at our book club last night. Next one is Jan. 8th at my house!

Diana Dyer said...

Thanks for missing me, Patti, at the Slow Food book club. Woo-hoo --- I can finally come to this next one, I have it on my calendar, AND I am even reading that book, The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry. I can't wait to see and catch up with everyone.