Ginger Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, and Pears

Even though Thanksgiving is still a week away, I can’t help but feel excited for Christmas. I get very nostalgic around this time of year, and start to miss my family even more than usual. There is nothing I love more than to be surrounded by everyone I love with a cozy fire, good food and lots of laughter. Growing up, my extended family would gather for a huge Christmas Eve party every year.  My sisters and I LIVED for these parties, as we got to stay up late with our cousins, eat plenty of cookies, and meet Santa Claus (AKA my Uncle Erik). These days, my favorite part of the holidays has become helping my mom out in the kitchen. I love preparing big batches of roasted veggies and desserts with her in our pajamas, listening to Christmas music. I truly cherish these moments, and hope it never changes.

This year, I am absolutely bringing these roasted beets, sweet potatoes, and pears to the table. I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys. If you’re looking for a healthy side dish to share with your family and friends, this is the one! It’s simple, inexpensive, and mouthwatering.  I’m so happy with the way this turned out! The flavors blend so beautifully thanks to fresh ginger and thyme, and is a celebration of fall produce. This recipe will suit many dietary needs - it is vegan, paleo and gluten free!

Traditional side dishes are often laden with unhealthy ingredients. While I am ALL for indulging a bit during the holidays, I definitely feel run down and lethargic after a few days of eating like this. What I love most about this recipe is how nutrient dense it is, without compromising on amazing flavor! Beets are an excellent source of fiber and contain organic nitrates. These nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in the body, which helps blood vessels relax, and thus may play a role in lowering blood pressure. Sweet potatoes are a richer source of vitamins and minerals, like beta-carotene, than their white counterparts. They also have a low glycemic index, so the sugars from sweet potatoes are released slowly and steadily into the blood. This does not cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels like more refined carbohydrates.

I hope you all try this recipe for a holiday gathering and share with your loved ones! What are your favorite holiday traditions? I would love to hear all about them!

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-large beets, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes (I actually keep the skin on as it does not bother me, but most people prefer beets without the skin)
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes (peel or keep skin on, either works)
  • 2 green anjou pears (ripe but still firm)
  • 1-2 tsp fresh thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine beets, onion, garlic, ginger, salt and about 1 tbsp avocado oil. Toss so veggies are well coated in oil. Spread beet mixture evenly on baking sheet, and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. While beets are roasting, combine sweet potatoes, pears, thyme, salt, and remaining oil in bowl.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes and pears to the baking sheet and mix to combine.
  5. Place mixture back into the oven and roast for an additional 40-50 minutes. Toss mixture halfway through.
  6. Add more salt to taste after cooking, and garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy warm or cold – it tastes delicious either way!

 

pumpkin bread with chocolate chips

Pumpkin Banana Squares with Chocolate Chips and Peanut Butter

Pumpkin spice season is back in full force! As much as we try to deny it, I think the majority of us shamelessly love curling up with a warm and cozy pumpkin spice anything. Pumpkin itself is full of health benefits, as are the traditional “pumpkin” spices. But, all the pumpkin spice products you’ll find in coffee shops and on grocery store shelves may be full of added sugars and other ingredients that negate the nutrition benefits you’ll get from the good stuff. For example:

  • Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte: Has 4 grams saturated fat and 48 grams of added sugar. That is more sugar than a can of Coke! For a visual, 48 grams of sugar = 12 teaspoons of sugar, or 12 sugar packets! I doubt you all would add that many packets to your regular coffee at Starbucks.
  • Pillsbury Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix: This quick bread mix has 15 grams of sugar per serving. Sugar is also the first ingredient listed on the label, meaning it is the most abundant ingredient in the mix. These pre-made mixes are also full of preservatives, dyes and unnecessary ingredients.
  • Whole Foods 365 Pumpkin Spice Granola: This granola has 3 kinds of added sugars listed in the ingredients, plus the dried fruits included are processed with sugar.

After making my blender banana bread the first time, I started dreaming up a pumpkin version. The cooler temperatures were begging for a cozier version of this treat! This recipe is very similar to my blender banana bread. It has minimal, nutrient-dense ingredients, is easy to make using just your blender, and tastes incredible!

Here are some of the highlighted ingredients:

And the nutrition breakdown:

  • Canned pumpkin: I wish pumpkin and winter squash were seasonal all year round! Pumpkin is high in fiber, which helps with digestion and may help lower elevated cholesterol. It is also rich in Vitamin A, so it supports healthy vision, skin and immune system. Make sure the only ingredient is pumpkin when buying canned pumpkin.
  • Chosen Foods Avocado Oil: I just recently started using avocado oil, and it’s become my favorite oil to cook with (along with good old olive oil). Avocado oil has a similar fat profile to olive oil, so it is very high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats and low in saturated fat. Avocado oil is better than olive oil for high heat cooking, because the smoke point is 500 degrees F. This means the fats in the oil will not oxidize into harmful substances at temperatures lower than 500 degrees. It also has a mild, neutral taste and odor, making it extremely versatile.
  • Peanut Butter: This is one of my pantry staples! Peanut butter is an inexpensive source of plant based protein and healthy fats. Nuts and legumes are also rich in micronutrients such as potassium and magnesium. Studies show that including this food group in your diet on a regular basis is linked to maintaining a healthy body weight. Make sure your peanut butter only has one ingredient – peanuts!

I hope you guys are ready to embrace pumpkin spice! It’s going to be hard to share these RD approved squares with everyone, but I know you’ll all be nice 🙂

Ingredients:

½ cup mashed very ripe banana (one medium banana)

½ cup pumpkin puree

2 large eggs

3 tbsp Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

3-4 tbsp maple syrup or honey (can use less if banana is riper)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups almond flour

1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

½ tsp salt

2-3 tbsp creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mash banana with a fork.
  4. Add mashed banana, pumpkin, eggs, avocado oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract to a high-speed blender, and blend on medium until smooth.
  5. Add almond flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt to the blender, and blend again until smooth and well combined.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth out with a spatula. Drop spoonfuls of peanut butter on top of batter, and use a knife to swirl throughout. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips, if desired.
  8. Bake for 30-45 minutes until edges are just starting to brown.
  9. Let cool before cutting into 8 squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.

I hope you guys love these pumpkin spice treats! Tag your photos with #Daisybeet so I can see your creations 🙂