BEAUTYCALYPSE

Wicked Seasonal Treats (My Simple Healthy Recipes #4)

Of course it’s the season of the witch! Welcome to my musings about seasonal treats and ideas for a healthy and fabulous Halloween menu.

What is Halloween for you?
Trick or treat, pumpkins, apples, eerie home and garden decorations, costumes and makeup, entertaining guests?
All of that, or some of that, or something in between?pumpkin-time

To me, minimalistic Halloween spirit in food and decorations (plus a party!) are more than enough. So I suggest, let’s start Funtober with a post about Halloween food being…

…DISGUSTINGLY DELICIOUS

If you think about food on Halloween, there are three sorts of foods that look good on a themed dinner table:

grapes

No horrors hide here. Just seasonal goodness. Though grapes are a great edible decoration for eerie dishes due to their lush natural shape and a variety of wicked colours from bright green to purple-ish.

1. The seasonal food – vegetables (pumpkins, gourds, and squashes; turnips/kohlrabi, fennel, black salsifies), fruits (plums, apples, grapes, pears) and wild mushrooms that all just invite you to create comforting, savoury menus of uberhealthy veggie goodness;
2. The “scary” food – party treats that look from cutesy spooky to outright disgusting;
3. The candy treats – candy for trick-or-treaters, though this is rather rare in Europe, or delish giveaways for party guests. The latter can be savoury.

True story: last Halloween I was picking up an order in a studio of Berlin designers Issever Bahri, as the doorbell rang. I could hear two kids mumble “Trick or treat…” in a somewhat shy manner, but as the designer said she had no candy for them, one voice instantly got cheeky: “Then what about some cash?” Berliner Schnauze – practice makes perfect! But let’s not digress.

TWO FACES OF HALLOWEEN FOOD

Today I’m in the mood for dissecting

…mwahaha, for dissecting the principles of making food look scary, that is.  I want to veganise and “green up” everything in order to make all that edible fun healthy, balanced beauty food (the healthier you are, the better you look, amirite?).

To get started, a few fabulous finding from Le Web.

While sites such as marthastewart.com offer gazillions of fancy Halloween recipes along with decoration tips and free printables that are rather funny looking than deeply disturbing (and need veganising yet), Celeste of Honk if you’re vegan has gathered lovely sweet vegan treats for all ages. She’s really put together one Top 10 collection of amazing, mouth-watering treats for your guests: vegan butterfingers! Banana mummies! Vegan caramellised apples! Pumpkin cupcakes! Please this way to discover the deets.

vegan-pumpkin-cupcakes

…the real TRICK was to make these vegan pumpkin mini-cupcake TREATS gluten-free!

Or, if you can’t get enough vegan baking recipes, check out Stina’s blog VeganPassion – I’m so baking these crazy fabulous chocolate and pumpkin bread with liquid chocolate filling.

To send a chill down your spine: Evil Mad Scientist, one of my fave procrastination pitfalls, have shown in their 2011 Halloween masterclass these totally sick looking “Specimen Jars”: 100% edible sweet and savoury stuff that in fact is 99% vegan (you could skip the non-vegan part without losing any of the sick look because it’s the plants that look beyond scary) – discover the horrid pictures and the how-to here. Green factor of this tutorial? Let me see: glass jars; plant-based; no colourings; sugar alternatives… Gets 10 green foul ghoul brains out of 10!

MY NO-HORRORS SEASONAL MENU FOR SCAREDY-CATS

Pumpkin soup is the first thing on a Halloween menu, right? Well: blarg. My personal pet peeve.

Every time I shiver in anticipation to enjoy a warming, comforting, silky and golden pumpkin soup, I am served a bowl of a mean looking mush that smells and tastes pre-digested. Always. Yikessss.

So I never attempt to cook pumpkin soup myself. Instead, I peruse this lovely seasonal vegetable packed with vitamins to make either:
1. Spicy pumpkin wedges or
2. Pumpkin risotto.

Pumpkin wedges are best served with other seasonal vegetables (fennel; beets; bell paprika; sweet potatoes; red onions etc.), roasted in the oven. It makes a colourful platter and doesn’t need much attention: wash, cut, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt (fancy pants alternative: roll ’em in curry spice or in tajine spice – nomnom), roast until golden.
You can enjoy your veg wedges platter with a dip or an oil of your choice – or toss warm roasted veg wedges with a bit of fresh corn salad, another seasonal highlight, and top with oil and vinegar. Simple and delicious.

pumpkin-risotto

Risotto: a die-hard attention whore of cooking. “Stir me or regret forever!”

A pumpkin risotto is bit more attentive-seeking.
Who am I fooling? Prepare to spend bloody 40 minutes chained to the stove!
You start with stir-frying red onion, pumpkin cubes and a hint of garlic, add your risotto rice and spices of your choice – and proceed as you do with risotto (stir-frying the veg/rice mix first, then adding veg broth one cup at a time and stirring, stirring, stirring). I like to add one TSP of coconut cream in the end and to top the risotto with roasted pumpkin seeds and sweet pine nuts when ready.
NB for non-vegans and cheese-addicts, my tip for a healthier and somewhat animal-friendlier Parmeggiano alternative: grated organic goat parmeggiano – from pasture-raised animals.

Oh, have I forgot the starters?
This is my fave bruschetta recipe – I grab the long summer’s last apricots and make them into a quick, sugar-free, spicy, vitamin-loaden chutney to make gluten-free sourbread bruschetta. Such a treat! And note, it’s conveniently orange 😉

apricot-chutney-bruschetta

My other fave autumnal comfort food, despite not being orange at all, is seasonal and so tasty you’ll be left asking yourself just this one question – why didn’t anybody tell me – as a kid – that kohlrabi/turnips taste that damn good!?

stuffed-turnip

Precook turnips for about 20 minutes until they’re soft, carve the middle (attention: HOT), chop it with other vegs (onion, paprika) and mix it with pre-cooked wild rice and spices. The trick here is to provide the right amount of spicy flavours (wicked chopped chilies) and creamy and savoury notes (tahin paste) for the filling. Top with almond crust and bake at 210°C until the crust is golden brown.

Squashes are great for stuffing them, too.

stuffed-button-squash

Here, a button squash is filled with herbes de Provence/ ratatouille style zucchini, topped with almond crust, and served with vegan mashed potatoes (add a mix of coconut oil and rice milk instead of milk and butter) that, in turn, are topped with fried mushrooms. Nomnomnom.

Even more seasonal goodness hides in my vegan “bœuf-stroganoff” style recipe. EveRy deeecent Russian faaamily have theiR own, hoooned, tiiime-tested BlinyBorstchchtchschsczczcz… and Bœuf Stroganoff recipe. Obviously.

Now, this one is mine alone – but it tastes like childhood, just minus the distinct smell of beef cooked to death, sorry for the bad pun.
Here, black salsifiers and mushrooms (with sautéd red onions, garlic, fresh rosemary and a bit vegan red wine) make believe they’ve never tasted better.

vegan-boeuf-stroganoff-variation

Back to orange-y goodness.

Chanterelles are the first sign of autumn, and this year they’ve marked my level-up in gluten-free, vegan cooking. A homemade white pizza with chanterelles, scallions, red onions is a delicious no-brainer and truly one more “Vegan Goodness Achievement Unlocked” award for me. The white spread is of course vegan sour cream.
Wwwwwwait. No-brainer? 10 of 10 zombie points! 😀

vegan-glutenfree-chanterelles-pizza

My experiments with gluten-free pizza dough went from spelt pizza (that I can’t eat, says wheat allergy) to buckwheat pizza (you can eat it if you fancy buckwheat, otherwise – don’t try that at home, kids) to corn flour pizza. With corn, it’s crucial to get GMO-free stuff.

And for desserts?
Another autumnal favourite: plums.
Plums love spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. And with a red, thick plum sauce… Oh, it’s the scaredy-cats menu. Beg your pardon.

plum-chutney-on-soy-yogurt-and-glutenfree-nobake-crust

vegan-plum-sirup-chai-latte

In the moment, plums are my fave addition to morning porridge. They taste heavenly together with soy-based apple yogurt and a grains mix with canihua (uberhealthy seeds that taste slightly like chocolate).

If you are interested in specific recipes en detail rather than just in basic suggestions as above, please point it out in the comments 🙂 

WICKED THOUGHT FOR FOOD

It’s not very healthy to mess with food colourings, and too messy to cook up plant-based colours from beetroot or carrots ot berries.

My first weapon of choce for weird looks on dinner plates are exotic salt crystals.
Available in natural colours from blue and red to black, they really can help you create nice, “laboratory”-looking decorations. For example, you could decorate the rims of glasses carrying savoury snacks with naturally black or blue salt.

blue-salt

Blue salt: Imy tastebuds haven’t noticed any taste differences to standard salt, even though the salt specialist at the KaDeWe told me it would knock my socks off… Maybe this salt simply isn’t strong enought to knock off my tights, who knows.

Himalayan salt available in large crystals won’t add any pink colour to the meal, but looks otherworldly in small specimen jars, labelled something like “petrifyed unicorn poo”.

pink-salt

It’s either sea salt or Himalayan salt in our kitchen.

Mundane things are perceived differently if put in a new “frame” and labelled something weird – use green tea and wasabi-infused mayo for witch-related food.

green-tea-with-rosemary-and-vanilla

Vanilla and rosemary look creepy, soaking in green (and fabulously healthy) Uchiyama tea. Especially in candlelight. 

Or take nutmegs, for example, looking innocent in their jar…

nutmeg

TO BE CONTINUED

15 replies »

    • celeste did a wonderful job indeed, connecting us all. thank you very much for dropping by, see you soon 😉

  1. I like MY pumpkin soup and I also love my pumpkin, parsnip and sweet potato roasted in curry spices. You have some wicked menu ideas for Halloween. I had a good gluten free pizza base recipe that included mashed potato in the dough!

    • spill the beans, then! (or rather, the pumpkin seeds)

      actually, it is only half true now. ha.
      I’ve had a very good, velvety pumpkin soup in one of berlin’s best italian restaurants called bocca di bacco – just yesterday. I ordered it as a standing joke 😀 but it was gorgeous.

    • in fact it’s some of this and some of that; I stock up on stuff I can get in large packs like xylitol, spices, virgin coconut oil, dried organic berries, porridge ingredients, nuts etc. – whatever you can stock – online at specialty shops or specialty shops with an amazon outlet.

      when I’m out, I always stop by a bio store in proximity (they are everywhere by now really, both chain and indie) and look what fresh gorgeousness or “meat alternatives” are available – it’s not like in a usual supermarket where all things are on stock all the time. but I rarely buy processed vegan food as I cook myself.
      we have two really expensive vegan supermarkets (small supermarkets in fact) in berlin but apart from interesting stuff they do sell quite a bit of processed food I’m not interested in.

  2. Delicious and wonderful ideas. Will keep them in mind and try a few things. I am totally in love with pumpkin and spices at the moment. Guess my body is desperately looking for something warming.

    • Me too! I’m so obsessed with pumpkin lately, I’ve been running to Starbucks to get their pumpkin spice latte ever since they brought it back this season.