Nutritious Spins on Old Favorites

By Jimmy Wilson, N.C.

One of the biggest misconceptions about shifting to an Eating for Health diet is that you’ll be forced to give up your favorite foods. Our societal conception of nutrition is deeply ingrained with the idea that health comes from bland boring flavors, and that self-denial is the way to go. At Bauman College we believe that this could not be further from the truth. Here we know that the best health comes from the addition of fresh local produce, quality proteins, raw nuts and seeds, whole grains, and all kinds of booster foods and spices that enliven the palette and build our nutrient reserves. Adopting a whole foods diet has the power to keep us healthy and satisfied. When we have all the nutrients required for proper bodily function, and our bellies are full of the most nutritious foods, our unhealthy cravings are naturally reduced and we reach a state of metabolic stability.

We know a whole foods diet is essential, but does that mean you’ll have to give up all your old favorites? Absolutely not! All foods, even the most comforting of all comfort foods, can be prepared in a healthy way. Have a hankering for french fries? How about potatoes cut into steak fries, tossed in coconut oil, lightly sprinkled with sea salt, and baked to crisp perfection? Have a craving for rich chocolate? How about a dark chocolate and chia seed mixture whipped with coconut water into a frothy and delicate mousse? Can’t stop thinking about a slice of pizza? What’s not to love about a homemade slice with whole wheat crust, organic local cheese, and fresh vegetables?

When you or someone you love wants to make a lifestyle change for the better, or has been diagnosed with a sensitivity or allergy, there is no cause to bemoan the loss of your favorite comfort foods, in fact, see it as an opportunity to find inspiration in all the new and wonderful ingredients and flavors you’ll be tasked with exploring.

As a Nutrition Consultant or Natural Chef student, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of how to nourish the body and satisfy the palate. Dairy sensitivity? You’ll learn to use whipped coconut milk as an alternative. Gluten intolerance? Explore techniques for creating a cauliflower ‘couscous’ instead of using the regular glutenous grain. Have a client that can’t get their mind off that burger, but who’s trying to go meatless? Learn how to create your own recipe for a savory beet and brown rice burger with organic cheese. The good news is that there are always ways to indulge both the taste buds and the health of the body.

For those home cooks who want to spread health and wellness to those they love, below you’ll find some very creative, nutritious, and (most importantly) delicious recipes from Bauman College Natural Chef, Dana Miller. These recipes take a nutritive spin on old favorites and show you how you can use healthy ingredients to enliven some of your favorite comfort foods.

Black Bean Brownies

Chef Dana Miller is a resident specialist in satisfying the palate with wonderfully nutritious, yet decadent treats. These dense, fudgy, gluten-free, ultra-healthy bean brownies are a great alternative to traditional brownies. They are packed with health supportive elements – fiber from the black beans, potassium from the banana, healthful fat from the coconut oil, complete protein from the quinoa, and an array of additional vitamins and minerals from the dates, cinnamon, and pecans – and you won’t even be able to detect the beans!

Ingredients – Serves 24
2 15 oz cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed (or soak and cook your own)
3-4 small ripe bananas
1/3 cup honey
1 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2 Tbs melted coconut oil
1 Tbs baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbs pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
7 pitted medjool dates
½ cup quinoa flour
½ cup allergy-free chocolate chips,
plus a little more to sprinkle on top
1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Grease a 9” x 13” pan with coconut oil and set aside.
2. Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips and pecans, in a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans (if using) and pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle a few extra chocolate chips over the top of the batter.
3. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
4. Allow to cool before slicing. Cut into 2″ squares for approximately 24 servings. For best results refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.

“Cheesy” Kale Chips

Chef Dana developed this recipe to satisfy her kids’ craving for the crunchy, cheesy snacks which are commonly full of chemical additives. Her kids now prefer this version. Kids and adults alike won’t escape the drawl of these crunchy treats and you can serve them to everyone with confidence, knowing that they are full of vitamins and minerals from the kale, red pepper, carrot, and spices. The nuts provide quality fat and protein, which make this a well balanced snack that will leave you feeling fuller, longer. Because this recipe is dairy-free, these delicious snacks are great for those with a dairy intolerance. Now the only problem will be keeping them on hand!

Ingredients – Serves 12
2 large bunches curly leaf kale
For the coating
½ cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked for 1 hour in water
1 red bell pepper
2 carrots
1 cup nutritional yeast, to taste
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs sweet paprika
2 tsp ground mustard powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Carefully remove the thick stems of the kale and tear into bite-size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner.
2. Place the rest of the ingredients in a food processor to make the coating. Blend until smooth (it will take a while). You will need to stop the machine and push ingredients down several times to get a really smooth paste.
3. Using your hands massage the coating onto the kale pieces. Make sure that the coating gets inside the curls.
4. Place the coated kale leaves on the lined dehydrator trays or on a parchment lined non-insulated cookie sheet (don’t worry about flattening, they are better bunched up).
5. If you have a dehydrator, set at 105° F and allow to dehydrate overnight (this method is preferred).
6. If using the oven, place in a 250° F oven for about 60 minutes, until browned and crisp. Be careful not to burn.

Squash and Squeeze “Mac and Cheese”

It’s hard to think of Macaroni and Cheese without thinking of childhood, but the rich dairy, high sodium, and processed and refined pasta traditionally used can be taxing to the system. Instead try this vegan, gluten-free version using squash. Rich in antioxidants, the squash not only adds to the bright color of this dish but also boosts the nutritive value. Nutritional yeast is rich in the B vitamins and is one of the few non-animal sources of B-12.

Ingredients – Serves 4, as a main dish
For the casserole
1 spaghetti squash
For the sauce
¼ cup olive oil
½ of a yellow onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 ½ Tbs arrowroot
2 ½ cups cashew milk (½ cup cashews or sunflower seeds and 2 ½ cups water in blender)
1 rounded Tbs toasted sesame tahini
½ cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbs dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ tsp sea salt, to taste
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp turmeric
For the topping
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs with herbs
10-12 grape tomatoes, halved
A sprinkle of dried basil and parsley

1. To prepare spaghetti squash, cut squash in half and de-seed. Rub cut sides with olive oil and bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet in a 400° F oven for 45 minutes. When finished use a fork to scrape the insides from the squash which will resemble stringy spaghetti noodles. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat, sauté the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
4. Stir in the arrowroot. Cook and stir for about 10 seconds, then slowly add in the cashew milk, whisking to blend the arrowroot paste and milk. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil (it will thicken as it heats) then reduce the heat to low.
5. Add the toasted sesame tahini, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, nutmeg, paprika, and turmeric. Mix well with a whisk. Remove from heat and set aside.
6. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Put the spaghetti squash into a square baking dish. Pour the “cheesy” sauce over the squash and gently combine.
7. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the gluten-free bread crumbs, halved grape tomatoes, and dried basil. Bake at 350° F for about 25 minutes, until heated through and bubbling. Cool and serve.

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We hope you’ll find inspiration in these recipes and the idea that all comfort foods can be created healthfully. After all, Eating for Health is not about subtraction, it’s about addition. The addition of more health supportive foods, more enjoyment around feeding yourself and those you love, and increased health for all. Find more nutritious spins on old favorites by staying in touch with the Bauman College community (online via Facebook, Twitter, and the Community Forum). Share your favorites with us, find more great recipes to try at home, or let us know how you like the recipes above. Together we can change the way the world eats. Together we can spread good health with delicious food.