Gosh, it’s been a while, eh? But I’m back and delighted to finally hit the ‘publish post’ button. I’ll be honest, as passionate as I am about what I do here, I needed a break. I’ve currently been craving cozy comfort food with all the cold rainy weather we’ve been having (not sure if cozy comfort food is even a thing but all I want to do is get all cozy and comfortable with my food. OK!). Think we can all use a little cozy comfort food to warm up the body and soul. If you love Indian food as much as I do, this butternut squash, kabocha, chickpea green curry is a lighter low-carb one (over cauliflower rice) that I think you will love. Maybe not an authentic curry, since there wasn’t much grinding, any yogurt, or toasting of spices, but rest assured it’s one heck of a delicious meal that reminds me of the one from my favorite vegan restaurant.
Happy belated 2017 by the way! Hope it’s been a good one so far. I’ve been a mess, hence the hiatus.
I thought for sure that I’d be back shortly after our trip to Turks and Caicos (late December), but you know how life goes … it happens while busy making other plans. Sigh. Anyways, Turks is a paradise we love going back to again and again, and it always ends much too soon. We even locked our cell phones in the room safe to avoid going into cyber-hyper-mode to soak it all in. How’s that for vacation bang for the buck? Have you ever been to Turks and Caicos? It’s heavenly — the balmy breezes, clear aquamarine waters, miles of powdery sand, schools of fish swimming between your feet – all of it. Even better: I didn’t need to worry about our food allergies (or a hotel room kitchen to cook!), the resort took care of all our needs and wants without a trace of terrible belly aches or rashes that come with an infraction. Because you know, food infractions can spoil a vacation real quick.
So our trip was great, including Michael and Ely being on their best behavior at every dining moment (a few that could have been better but nevertheless) and everyone having a great time. But while there, my personal issue with guilt came up. About how much more I need to do to treat Michael and Ely’s disorder. The lack of full neurodevelopment pulled on my heartstrings as I watched dozens of kids’ independently running around in high pitched chatter and participating in all the camp activities like it’s a no-brainer. Yep, it got to me.
Like any Mom, your wish for your child is to embrace life’s opportunities and possibilities with ease and to have positive social interactions. Just to clarify: there was no revelation hit “oh my sons’ have autism and I need to take a break to work on that.” Rather “Shit. It’s over eight years now yet we still have a long way to go to functional independence.”
SO. Even though research and Biomed are round the clock, as is my love for food and creating recipes to share with you here, the pangs of guilt nabbed my autism warrior mom side to step back and breathe, then delve my injured (I’ll explain) body a little deeper, a little harder into new research findings on autism. I’m glad I did — the guilt helped fuel some positive research findings we are currently implementing … still running for victorious health, torch in hand.
Shortly after our trip I managed to tear a few tendons in my left foot probably from going gung-ho at the gym since eating non-stop on vacation got me in trouble (that’s the idea right? right), a stiff, painful neck that I couldn’t move side to side (not drinking enough) and test result for h pylori that says positive. POSITIVE. All one after the other, the week after we got back. Remind me to not complain about needing rest from my hectic life (!). I’ve taken mastic gum, high dose broccoli sprout pills and going no sugar, no carbs to treat the h pylori naturally … will test again end of February to see if it worked. Um, yeah, exciting. The irony (and good from it) was the timing, perfect since I couldn’t move much (or cook, good thing my husband can find recipes here. hehe.) so I researched my butt off and took it easy with all things active.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about this blog and how it doesn’t feel right to talk about the struggles or ongoings with autism for a minute then jump to say blueberry muffins. Just hasn’t felt authentic, you know? I’ve been struggling with this. Autism is a heart-full that needs its’ own platform so I decided that’s what I’m going to do: an autism blog, discussing what has worked for us on our journey including what symptoms could be telling you, the struggles, nutritional supplementation for different behavioral concerns. The whole nine yards. I’m excited to be doing this soon. Will let you know when if you happen to know someone who may need it. Also excited to be working on selling a few baked goods (or doughs to bake at home) online. My immobility was put to good use (hehe).
I didn’t want to bring this all up because hello, food blog, but then thought it’s okay. It’s okay to put out there that life is messy and unapologetic at times. Things happen and good changes can come of it. Or so I hope in a global sense.
“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Oprah Winfrey
Anyways, enough about me, let’s talk saucy green curry. Most curries contain tomato – an ingredient three of my sons’ are intolerant to – so I came up with a recipe that we can all enjoy. Curries may seem daunting with exotic ingredients and may require long hours to simmer, here I kept it simple using spices I had on hand to make it quick and easy for dinner the other night. Start to finish took a little over an hour. Most of that time is in prepping, but doing it a day ahead, you can whip it up in under an hour. You can certainly add chicken but honestly, it’s quite filling as is. My guys didn’t even mind it was over cauliflower rice, as in the fluffy-non-mushy kind that will make a believer out of you. See my hack below. My days of mushy cauliflower rice are finally over …with just a pinch of salt, it’s the best. Amen to veggie-packed healthier meals that satisfy even the staunchest carnivores like mine.
It is everything you want in a winter food: saucy, comforting, rich, complex, with a dose of super healthy, as in major-anti-inflammatory-to-fight-cold-bugs-kind-of-healthy. But nobody cares about that so long it tastes good, right? You bet. What I love about this green curry is how the curry flavor lends a rich, flavorful kick to the vegetables without being overpowering (because I do want to taste my vegetables) or heavy.
If feeding little ones take the green curry paste down a tablespoon or two — it’s not spicy, spicy, but it can be for some kids when made a day ahead. If spicy is more your thing, add Thai chiles.
Although authentic curry sauces require a long(er) list of spices to grind and toast, I took the lazy route, for most of them but did make the effort to freshly grind the fennel and cardamom seeds since pre-jarred are usually mild, but use pre-ground if unavailable. Although there’s a variety of spice in here I found the addition of green curry paste rounded out the curry flavor and would be sorely missed if made without. It’s a wonderful quick substitute with a similar bold curry flavor you’d expect.
For deeper flavor, it’s best made a day ahead then garnish with toasted macadamia nuts (a creamy nutty flavor that pairs so well with curry) and fresh cilantro (coriander). Perfect make ahead one-pan meal for those hectic weekdays when only a reheat will do, or wintry weekends like this one because, baby … it’s cold outside.
Cheers to a wonderful (cozy) weekend!
Note: If kabocha is unavailable, substitute with extra butternut squash. Kabocha has a sweet potato taste without being so starchy and if it is available, do give it a try; preferably organic since the skin is edible and left on. I puree the onion and turmeric to give the sauce, even more, flavor (a tip from the chef at my favorite Indian restaurant), reduces cooking time, and nice to cut prep time since we have all that squash to deal with – well worth the effort! 🙂
It may seem like an enormous amount of spice but that’s our flavor right there!
Because if the jarred stuff is good why mortar and pestle our way to curry?
It will seem like too many vegetables but it will come down when softened.
This is my secret ingredient! It rounds out the curry kick with a smooth creamy taste that doesn’t come through but without it, it’s not the same.
We haven’t had spinach in over five years since discovering it’s very high oxalate and blocks iron absorption but still want the texture and color of frozen spinach in some recipes so I blanch dino kale (stems removed) for 2-3 minutes in salted boiling water and viola! Look and tastes so much like spinach and we still keep our iron. 🙂
When thickest pieces are fork tender, it’s done. Put the lid back on and let it sit for 15 minutes to thicken. Keeping it refrigerated overnight will thicken the sauce further. Simply add a little stock when reheating, if needed. Meanwhile, make the cauliflower rice…
Aside from looking at my dirty well-used stove (in real time!), the large saucepan pictured is filled with 1-2 inches of water (just below the holes of my small colander). Once boiling I add a batch of cauliflower rice to fill the colander and toss occasionally. By keeping it uncovered, with a makeshift steamer, it won’t get mushy. The trick is allowing air to circulate as the bottom of the cauliflower rice steams. Keep rotating until the rice looked softened. Don’t worry about getting every rice completely cooked, it will soften up when transferred to a serving bowl while the next batch cooks and so on. Raw bits take only a minute to soften, simply stir in the serving bowl while waiting for the curry to thicken.
Pictured below is next day lunch with only half remaining – enough for lunch for three!
- ½ bunch dino (lacto) kale, stems removed
- 1 medium kabocha squash
- 1 medium butternut squash (both squashes should yield 5-6 cups, chopped)
- 2 large stalks celery
- 6 (2-inch long) fresh turmeric roots, peeled
- 1 (2-inch long) knob fresh ginger, peeled
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 medium onions, peeled, rough chop
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral tasting oil
- 2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons coconut milk (not canned), or water
- 1 tablespoon each of ground coriander, cumin, and cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup sunflower seed butter
- 4 tablespoons GF DF green curry paste
- 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained
- In a pot of boiling water, add a tablespoon of kosher salt and blanch kale for 3 minutes, Drain, then cool and chop. Set aside for later.
- Peel, remove seeds and chop the butternut squash into cubes (about 1 inch in size), other than peeling, do the same with kabocha. Slice celery thick, about ½ in size. Set aside.
- Then puree peeled turmeric, ginger, garlic, and onions in a food processor. It will appear like wet pulp. Set aside.
- Note: Prepare all cans and measure out spices beforehand since this recipe comes together quickly.
- Set a large, deep sauté pan or dutch oven (at least 5 quarts to give room for mixing) or medium-high heat, when hot add oil. Shortly after, add pureed onion turmeric mixture and stir to coat well. It should sizzle. When the mixture looks opaque and the turmeric has softened, add in canned coconut milk, and coconut milk or water (if using), stir to combine well. Once it begins to boil, add ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, fennel, cardamom, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine well. Immediately add in sunflower butter and green curry paste, stir again. Immediately add in cubed squashes, celery, and drained chickpeas. Stir to coat well. The sauce should cover most of the vegetables. When it comes back up to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and let it cook for a minute. Add blanched kale, stir, then cover and let cook for 30 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until cubed squash are fork tender. Turn off heat and let it cool for 10 minutes (still covered) to thicken the sauce further.
- Meanwhile, for the cauliflower rice (I begin to prepare when my curry is cooling): Heat a large saucepan on high heat with about 2 inches of water with a colander set over it, be sure not to let the water come into the colander holes. When boiling add about two cups at a time of cauliflower rice and steam for a minute, uncovered. It will steam the bottom portion only, then toss the rice in the colander, shift raw rice to the bottom and cooked rice to the top for another minute. Shift raw rice to the bottom as needed until most have softened. Transfer to a serving dish. Do not worry about any raw bits, they will soften in the serving dish. Continue with remaining cauliflower rice then add remaining to the serving dish, toss to combine (and soften).
- Serve over cauliflower rice (or as desired), garnished with toasted macadamia nuts and fresh cilantro (coriander). Even more flavorful the next day; it will appear very thick when refrigerated, before adding liquid, reheat first as it tends to thin out when heated, if needed, then add additional coconut milk or water. Will remain fresh refrigerated for up to 4 days and freezer-friendly, in a sealed freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Do not recommend freezing the cooked cauliflower rice as it has gotten soggy for me.
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