How often do you eat cranberries in their fresh, raw form? It seems to go without saying that sweetened dried cranberries have pretty well monopolized the Cranberry Market in recent years, edging out their plump, juicy originators by a long shot. I’d wager few of us ever go around eating raw cranberries as our go-to fruit of choice. As a matter of fact, when my six-year-old daughter saw them in our fruit crisper the other day and asked to try one, I told her to do so at her own risk. Raw cranberries are so stinking tart, they’re almost inedible on their own.
Not surprisingly, it took about two seconds before she made a horrible face and spit it into the trash.
That’s why this Cranberry Salsa–which I had the fresh cranberries in the fridge for–is so special. It features raw cranberries combined with apple, jalapeño, red onion, and a couple of other fresh ingredients for an unexpected, interesting appetizer that’s sure to be a hit at holiday parties. (It was at mine last night! The bowl I served this in was practically licked clean.)
Being a nutritionist, I’m a bit self-conscious about the food I serve when I entertain. Maybe no one is thinking about it but me, but I feel like my title obligates me to make at least some fairly healthy options for my guests. Plus, the nutritionist in me likes to offer allergy-friendly options for friends and family in the “something-free” club. This salsa fit the bill for both, since it’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free–basically everything-free, since it’s made entirely with fresh fruits, sugar, and salt. Heck, it’s even RAW, if you’re into that, too.
Oh, and it’s easy. And make-ahead. And a balanced blend of sweetness and spice. And seasonal.
Can you tell I’m sold? Give this one a try for any upcoming Christmas parties and tell me how it goes!
This Cranberry Salsa is a festive, healthy, allergy-friendly holiday appetizer.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the sugar until very fine (to create superfine sugar). Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.
Place cranberries, apple, red onion, and jalapeño in the food processor and process until the mixture reaches a finely chopped pico de gallo-type consistency. Add to the bowl with the sugar and stir to combine.
Add orange zest and juice, lime juice, and salt and stir to combine. Cover and chill 2-24 hours. Stir in cilantro just before serving.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when it comes to your diet, there’s no such thing as a “detox.” Your liver and kidneys serve as your body’s built-in detoxification system, and there’s not much you can do to make them function better.
That being said, on this day after Thanksgiving, we could probably all use a “detox” in the sense of something light and healthy to get back on track after the inevitable holiday indulgence. A smoothie is my snack of choice after mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie…and pizza. (No, my family Thanksgiving tradition doesn’t involve pizza. It’s just that when you eat dinner at 3:00 PM, you get pretty hungry by about 9:00.) Though I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of all those foods, the key to health is balance, so I’m leaning toward the skinny side of the food spectrum today.
This Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie is inspired by the Chunky Strawberry Bowl at Jamba Juice. Strawberries, banana, peanut butter, and oats may sound like an odd combination, but from the first time I tried the Jamba Juice version, I was hooked. There’s something almost comfort food-like about the sweetness of the fruit blended with wholesome oats and stick-to-your-ribs peanut butter. I’ve been recreating it at home for awhile now.
When it comes to making your own smoothie instead of going to Jamba Juice, there are a couple of distinct advantages: 1.) you won’t pay a whopping $7.15 for it, and 2.) it doesn’t have to set you back 570 calories when all you want is a snack. Plus, on Black Friday, you don’t have to leave your house. That’s my kind of detox. 🙂
Wishing you a delightful remainder of your Thanksgiving weekend!
Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
Fruity and filling, this smoothie is a healthy snack choice!
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.
I realize Halloween is over, but can you handle one more pumpkin recipe? I know I can, but then again, I could eat pumpkin pie every day whole year round. For others less out of their gourd for gourds, now that it’s November, pumpkin fatigue may have set in. Understandable. But I hope you’ll make an exception for this Pumpkin Hummus recipe, because not only is it easy, unique, and tasty, it’s also super fun to make with DIY fall-shard tortilla chips.
Aren’t they cute?
When it comes to making hummus, the main thing that usually stands in my way is that I suffer from what I think of as Tahini Block. As in, I really, really don’t want to spend eleven bucks on a jar of ground sesame seeds when all I’ll use is a couple of tablespoons at the most. Therefore, I generally refrain from homemade hummus unless I can use a tahini-free recipe. This one fits that description! Though tahini adds a signature flavor, as a general rule hummus is extremely adaptable. As long as it starts with beans and ends up with a nice consistency, I say you’re safe to call it authentic even if no tahini is involved.
Now let’s talk tortilla. DIY fall shaped tortilla chips, to be exact. Of course you could buy tortilla chips at the store–I mean, who really needs to make their own chips?–but once you’ve cut your own shapes with delightful fall-themed cookie cutters, there’s no going back. Pumpkin and leaf-shaped dippers add a whole extra layer of seasonal character alongside this pumpkin hummus.
So for your next play date, Thanksgiving potluck, or Tahini Avoiders Anonymous meeting, give this fun combination a try!
Pumpkin Hummus + Fall Tortilla Chips
A savory, tahini-free pumpkin hummus paired with fun DIY tortilla chips!
To make the hummus:
Place garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor and run on low briefly to mince. Add all remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Serve garnished with pepitas, if desired.
To make the chips:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Using fall-themed cookie cutters, cut shapes out of tortillas. (You can either discard the remaining tortilla scraps or include them for other, funky-shaped chips.) Spray both sides of cutouts lightly with olive oil cooking spray, then sprinkle to taste with herbs and spices. (Or for sweet chips, try sprinkling with cinnamon and sugar.)
Place on prepared baking sheet and bake 7 minutes, then flip chips and bake another 7 minutes. Serve with pumpkin hummus.
A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe
I always forget about popsicles. They’re such a simple, versatile snack that’s just about fail-safe, and I have what is officially known as a “crap-ton” of popsicle molds sitting in one of my kitchen cabinets. But somehow, the idea of making popsicles rarely springs to mind.
Until, that is, I go swimming. When you’re by the pool on a hot day, doing the summer dance of in-for-a-dip, out-for-some-sun, don’t popsicles just sound like the perfect treat? They sure do to me! So the other day, when the kids and I were enjoying an afternoon by the pool, a craving for popsicles came on full force.
These creamy Mandarin Orange Yogurt Pops were just the thing, both for me the crew of my own kids and neighbor kids tromping through my house until school starts next week. Of course, if you’ve ever made popsicles, you probably realize that any mix of fruit, juice, and/or yogurt will pretty much work, so think of these as more “popsicle inspiration” and less “popsicle recipe.” The mandarin oranges here could easily be replaced by any frozen fruit, and the yogurt with honey could be flavored yogurt. (There’s a reason why even kids can make these frozen treats.)
What’s your favorite version?
Mandarin Orange Yogurt Pops
Creamy frozen pops with bursts of juicy mandarin orange!
2 hours (freezing)
In a mixing bowl, stir together yogurt, honey, and orange extract (if using). Drain about half the liquid from the mandarin oranges, then stir oranges and remaining liquid into yogurt mixture.
Carefully spoon into popsicle molds. Freeze 2 hours or until firm.
A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.
Aww, I totally missed it. May was National Strawberry Month, and I really meant to squeeze this recipe in before May ended three days ago. Then again, I’m not actually in the country, so I think I kind of get a pass on being up to speed on the whole “National (insert item here) Month” idea (though June is National Dairy Month, which I can totally get behind–and also, weirdly, National Potty Training Awareness Month? I’m as aware as I want to be on that subject…)
Plus, it seems to me like the entire summer should be called National Strawberry Season. Strawberries are one of those foods that just scream summer. When I think of strawberries and summer, I think of a refreshing poolside snack, sweet strawberry ice cream, and the edible red stripes on the American flag of a Fourth of July dessert. And now, after this recipe, I think…applesauce! Incorporating strawberries into applesauce is a great way to use up those last loner berries you got on mega summer sale that have faded from their grocery store beauty contest-best and are a wee bit too mushy to be featured in your attractive strawberry dessert. After all, in applesauce, everything is supposed to be mushy and mixed! It’s like the meatloaf of snacks.
So if you’d love a new spin on a healthy, whole foods classic or your kids are home for the summer and you need something a little different than the granola bars on repeat at snack time, give this easy strawberry applesauce a try! (And don’t think too hard about that whole “meatloaf of snacks” comment…I promise, it’s really tasty. 😉)
P.S. For more strawberry fun, read my 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Strawberries post!
An easy, refreshing spin on the snack classic!
In a large pot, bring apples, water, and cinnamon stick to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until apples are tender, about 15 minutes. Mash until chunky.
Add strawberries and cook another 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Using an immersion blender, puree until the mixture reaches a consistency you like. Remove from heat and stir in sugar to taste.
Serve warm or chill until ready to serve.