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Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Ain’t no party like a sweet potato party. Or a crostini party. Or a tahini party. Or a Friendsgiving party. Or a Thanksgiving soiree with all your family members you see but once or twice per year and still don’t really know what to talk about besides sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

I can’t say I’m a fan of the word ain’t. (In fact, I had to look up its spelling just for this blog post.) But, I’m a huge fan of parties, even those semi-strange family ones, and I’m  equally a fan of all the ingredients listed above.

Tahini. Sweet potatoes. Honey. Toasted walnuts and baguette. Now that’s a party in a single, not-entirely-too-awkward bite to eat.

I.e., you’re going to want to put this guy on your Thanksgiving party plate list.

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Aside from crostini packages that offer a ton of flavor in one fork-and-spoon-free bite, I’m a huge fan of healthy appetizers. Let’s face it, parties aren’t always the most health-friendly activities, Thanksgiving included. In fact, recent research for my day job informed me that the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, or the equivalent of the calories you’d use to jog 10 hours straight. Yowza. That’s a party in which I’m not too interested.

Luckily, this recipe packs in the nutrition, sneaking in a little protein while it’s at it. That bean-powered protein and creamy sweet potato fiber will keep you satisfied till the main meal arrives, and keep you feeling good, too.

If that sounds great to you, I invite you to kick off your next party FFFreshAir style, and let this crostini start your taste bud tango. I promise, it’s got way better dance moves than I do.

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Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

As soon as the first crisp days of autumn arrive, I subconsciously, and rather rapidly, begin to shift my diet to match the shifting environment that surrounds me. Outside my window, I admire the many shades of orange spreading across the sky. Then soon after, near as many orange hues start appearing on my kitchen counters.

Squash of every variety, and sweet potatoes too, fill up my empty wooden baskets, my ceramic plates, and now my mason jars, too.

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

When Williams Sonoma kicked off this week with the theme of “Not Your Average Smoothie”, naturally I knew I needed to throw some squash into my blender.

I’m all about going outside the traditional smoothie box, and I’m also all about squash, so it seemed like a perfect platform for experimentation.

I turned on my oven, said bottoms up, and began getting to work.

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

I decided upon butternut, loving its creaminess in soups that I often create with apples. I figured, why wouldn’t that be delicious iced and turned into a smoothie, too?

After testing out this smoothie several times, I finally came up with a recipe that’s a little weird, a little wild, yet totally straw-worthy and insanely refreshing.

Through my testing, I learned to save the oven for the squash soup, and stick to steaming for the smoothie. Steaming enables the squash to stay juicer and not as dense so you end up with a shake that has a nice light, whipped consistency. Along with some spirited spice – curry powder and a kick of cayenne (ow ow!) – this smoothie embodies some of fall’s best warming qualities while remaining refreshing till the last sip.

Feel free to try swapping the butternut with sweet potato, or even pumpkin. Just be mindful of possibly needing to adjust the liquid. If you want to step further out of the box, add some spinach. I did this to one batch, and the results were great (even if it sounds a little weird). To get a little wilder, top your smoothie with toasted walnuts or pecans. Or an extra kick of that spicy cayenne, if you like it hot.

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Roasted Curry Butternut Seeds

Roasted Curry Butternut Seeds

So, this past weekend I made not one, but two fully furnished cutting boards. I also made a butternut squash, and toasted its seeds. And a bumblebee costume from yellow duck tape, wire, and saran wrap (for the wings).

A productive weekend, if I do say so myself.

Now we shall see how productive this week becomes, as I sit and dream about crafting more woodworking projects. And eat crunchy, curried seeds as my mind drifts afloat.

Roasted Curry Butternut Seeds

Far too often, I quickly open butternuts, and toss the seeds without thinking twice. Yet, I’ve toasted the seeds on numerous occasions, and should know better than that by now.

Butternut nut squash seeds are tasty. They can be salty. And spicy. Or sweet. Or both. And are certainly worthy of saving.

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Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

 

Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

I woke up on Saturday morning realizing August was just 2 weeks away. Woah, woah, woah, hold the phone! But by all means, don’t hold the melon.

It wasn’t until I then realized I had went this far into the summer without buying my first full watermelon that the panic set in. That’s like living in the city without a bike — practically a crime, at least in my world.

I love watermelon, and how I let this much of summer slip by without eating a full half to myself is beyond me. Summers are made for meals of watermelon, right?

So of course, Saturday morning, straight to the market I went. And breakfast become none other than a huge slice of sweet, juicy summer. My favorite.

Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad

It’s a miracle that the other half of the melon ended up in this salad. Like a just-picked heirloom tomato, or a perfectly ripe avocado, there are some things in life that I often feel, “Why bother doing anything more than adding a fork.” Although it goes without saying, a little bit of salt can entirely enhance those first two items, and it appears a little bit of feta and basil can do the same for watermelon. Sliced watermelon is great, but so is this melon salad.

On Sunday, I also happened to be heading to a friend’s b-day brunch, so the opportunity to make something special couldn’t be passed up. If you’re a food blogger, sliced watermelon isn’t all that great when fun, food-related occasions arise. Although, the few slices you’re munching on while cooking — those speak of excellence.

Needless to say, this was a hit and a totally worthy use of an impressively ripe and ready melon. Salty feta plays off the sweetness of the melon, while a minty basil takes its natural refreshingness to a whole other level. If you want your watermelon to feel fancy, in an effortless sort of way, this is it. I’m already ready for brunch, round 2, and of course, watermelon round 2, too.

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Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

This time of year, I want ginger and lime in my cup. Preferably over ice. Preferably with something a little fizzy. Maybe (or, if it’s a warm weekend night, definitely maybe) with some kind of spirit jazzing it up, too.

I’m a sucker for ginger. And lime. So naturally, I’ll say “yes please” to that duo in hummus on my spring veggie baguette, too.

Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

When early summer rolls around, my diet generally shifts to veggies, and lots of them. Why eat anything else when there’s asparagus, and arugula, and cauliflower, and maybe even the first greenhouse-grown tomato in the ground? None of that tastes as good during the off seasons – especially when we’re talking tomatoes – so, I do my best to pack my diet with it when it’s shining brightly at the farmer’s market. (Or better yet, hanging out for free in my mom’s garden.)

With that being said, however, it’s good to have something that packs a punch of protein on-hand. Active summery days call for something a little more than veggies. Something more than Ginger Lime Mojitos, too. (Sorry if that’s all you can think about now as well.)

Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

Hummus is a dietary staple of mine. In all honesty, I could make anything featuring sesame tahini a dietary staple – but hummus just so happens to be a healthy and convenient choice. Especially this edamame-spiced one, which packs double the protein in a nice green package.

Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

Compared to traditional chickpeas, edamame looks pretty good – and I mean that to extend beyond just its vibrant green color. It has slightly fewer calories, more protein, and nearly the same amount of fiber per serving. Not bad, considering chickpeas in themselves aren’t a bad choice.

Keep a batch of this in your fridge, and you’ll have the makings for a baguette, ready to be picnicked all week long. If you can, pick up some radishes to shave on top, my veggie topping of choice. Although carrots can do the trick pretty well too, even sans bread.

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