Sweet Potato Hummus

Creamy sweet potato hummus is perfect for dipping raw veggies or with crunchy whole grain crackers! 

I love this summer.

If you've been following my adventures on instagram, then you know I just got back from a long weekend in Asheville. Before that, it was Tybee Island, Greenville and a week and a half in the northeast. Coming up, we've got Charleston, NYC, and Charlotte. With my practice, I've been running our first group of Joyful Eaters, working with a pretty full load of clients and wrapping up a few other big projects. Phew!

Even though the past few months have been packed to the brim with work and play, there's still been a leisurely feel to this season. After focusing on work and growing my practice, now that I'm finally settled and stable, I've really tried to prioritize rest, relaxation and self care...err, at least try to fit it in!

One of my favorite ways to do that is with reading. I'm pretty proud of myself for slowing chipping away at the pile of books by my bed! My latest read - My Fat Dad, which I'm participating in a blog tour for today.

My Fat Dad is part cookbook, part memoir. It hilarious and poignantly tells the story of Dawn Lerman's youth, growing up, hungry for pleasure and nourishment in a household with her yo-yo dieting father and a mother who couldn't care less about food or cooking. An incredibly successful marketing exec, her father was unable to replicate his work success in his attempts to lose weight. As he jumped from diet to diet, everything from Atkins to the grapefruit diet to a stay at an adult fat camp, she was essentially forced to live off his diet foods. She compassionately shares her dad's dieting stories, which was fascinating to read with an intuitive eating filter. With no family meals, eating was chaotic. It could have easily set the stage for developing eating issues of her own.

Thankfully, she had her grandmother, Beauty, who would spend hours with her, teaching her how to cook, instilling a love of real food and cooking, as well as an appreciation of her Jewish heritage and how food can connect you to it. This influence served as a protection against developing eating issues herself, and now Dawn is a nutritionist and columnist at The New York Times.

I usually don't do book reviews on the blog, simply because it's hard for me to commit to reading a book by a certain time. But I've been such a huge fan of Dawn Lerman's Fat Dad column at the Times, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate! Being half Jewish, growing up (partly) in New York, with a marketing exec father who yo-yo dieted himself (although not NEARLY on the scale as this book!), there was so much I related to. Although really, I think any food lover would relate to the story of falling in love with food and learning that it is so much more than fuel.

Reading Fat Dad got me thinking about all the things in my life that could have triggered eating issues. It gave me new appreciation for the love of food my family instilled, because I think that was my saving grace in becoming the intuitive eater I am today.

Also a cookbook, Fat Dad is peppered with recipes from her youth, everything from rich and decadent flourless peanut butter blondies to traditional Jewish dishes like kugel to recipes from her dad's diet adventures, like gazpacho and Pritkin-approved lentil stew. I chose to share her sweet potato hummus, since hummus was one of the first dishes I learned to make myself!

Connect with the author: Dawn Lerman, MA, C.H.H.C, LCAT, AADP

NY Times Column

DawnLerman.net

Facebook: Author Page

Twitter: @dawnlerman

Sweet Potato Hummus

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Reprinted from MY FAT DAD: A Memoir of Food, Love, Family, and Recipes By Dawn Lerman Berkley Books/2015

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Prick a sweet potato all over with the prongs of a fork. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave for 5-10 minutes until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Place chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, coriander and nutmeg in a food processor. Cut sweet potato in half and scoop the flesh into the food processor. Blend until pureed, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve with fresh vegetables and whole grain crackers.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Red Wine Tomato Jam and Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EntertainandPair #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Red Wine Tomato Jam and Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip

This grilled vegetable platter served with a red wine tomato jam and caramelized onion buttermilk dip, both infused with Dreaming Tree Wine, is the red carpet version of your standard raw vegetable platter! 

Admit it. You've been that person who brings a raw vegetable platter to the party in an attempt to have a healthy option for everyone to enjoy.

Except, no one actually enjoys that raw vegetable plate. Some eat it because it's there, but who has ever left a party saying "Wow! That baby carrot dipped in ranch was amazing! I wish Susan would share her recipe!"

No one. Ever.

Grilled Vegetable Platter with Two Wine Infused Dips

This awards season, give your standard raw vegetable platter a red carpet makeover. My secret for a vegetable platter people will actually want to eat? Grill (or roast) the vegetables first, adding a caramelized, smoky flavor, and serve alongside a couple tasty, homemade dips.

Usually I do some type of hummus or avocado-based dip, but for this campaign, I decided to experiment cooking with Dreaming Tree wine...and I think I found two new favorites in the process! Both get a deep, rich, and luxurious flavor from a base of caramelized onions infused with Dreaming Tree wine. The jammy notes of Dreaming Tree Crush, a red wine blend, went perfectly in the tomato jam, adding a layer of fruitiness and complexity. For the buttermilk dressing, I went with Dreaming Tree chardonnay. Now, normally I'm not a chardonnay person. Actually, I rather despise chardonnay, which is why it was the only Dreaming Tree wine I hadn't tried. But I thought chardonnay's buttery flavor would go really well with the caramelized onions over the crisp, more acidic everyday white (which I love for sipping!). So glad I picked it up though, because I discovered I really like their chardonnay! Like, a lot! It's aged in both stainless steel and oak barrels, so it's not overly oaky and cloying like the other chardonnays I've tried.

Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip with Dreaming Tree Chardonnay
Red Wine Tomato Jam with Dreaming Tree Crush

As a long time fan of Dreaming Tree Wine, I was particularly excited about the project. As an even longer time fan of Dave Matthews (high school flashbacks!), who launched Dreaming Tree with winemaker Sean McKenzie, I picked up a bottle almost as soon as it launched and it's been a favorite ever since. Outside of the flavor (Crush is my favorite) and high quality for a reasonable price, I really appreciate their commitment to sustainability. It's a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing winery and has the largest solar initiative in the wine industry. The wines are even packaged sustainably, using less glass and a recycled label.

Dreaming Tree Wine

Considering we're smack dab in the middle of awards season, I think you'll have plenty of opportunities to whip this up. Usually I'm not big into award season, but this year, we've kept up with most of the nominees and I definitely have my favorites...which I won't share, because after they win I like to say "I knew it! I totally called it!" ;) So, I'm thinking we may have people over to watch and put out this grilled vegetable platter along with a selection of cheeses and crusty bread. Although this might seem like more effort than a premade vegetable platter, leftovers can easily be stretched into meals during the week. Serve the leftover vegetables in a grain bowl. Leftover buttermilk dip is perfect in my collard green salad with cornbread croutons or your favorite simple side salad. The tomato jam would be so tasty served over roasted fish or a grilled steak, or even on a sandwich. And of course, the leftover wine is perfect for sipping and pretending to be fancy during your very own awards party! 

For more inspiration on how to #EntertainandPair, head to their website. Be sure to check out your local retailer for wine tasting demos! What are your favorite red carpet bites, and which Dreaming Tree Wine would you like to pair it with? 

Keep up with Dreaming Tree Wines:

Grilled Vegetable Platter

Use any fresh vegetables you like. I used cherry tomatoes (on a skewer), cauliflower florets, halved baby zucchini, mushrooms and green beans. If you prefer roasting, toss them with a tablespoon of olive oil and roast in a 400 degree oven until golden and tender.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh vegetables, trimmed, and cut into 'serving' pieces
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Red wine tomato jam & caramelized onion buttermilk dip, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Set grill to medium high. Spray vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill and cook until lightly charred, but still crisp-tender. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.

Red Wine Tomato Jam

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup Dreaming Tree Crush or other rich, fruity red wine
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium pot. Add red onion and garlic and saute until starting to get golden, about 7 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt and continue to cook over medium heat until deeply caramelized, tender and almost jammy looking, about 40 minutes.
  2. Pour in wine, scraping up the bottom with a spatula. Add tomatoes, balsamic, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until very thick and jam-like, about 15 minutes total. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Caramelized Onion Buttermilk Dip

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Dreaming Tree chardonnay or other richly flavored white wine
  • 1 cup buttermilk, low or full fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium skillet. Add onion and garlic. Saute until starting to look golden, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and continue cooking, stirring every so often, until onions are deeply caramelized and jammy in appearance, about 40 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up bottom of the pan with a spatula, and cook until wine is almost completely reduced and the onions are very jammy in appearance, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, scrape onions into a bowl, and set aside to cool slightly.

  2. When onions have cooled a bit, stir in buttermilk, olive oil, parsley, vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more if desired.

Indian Spiced Guacamole

Bored with traditional guacamole? Probably not, but you'll love this Indian spiced guacamole with mustard seeds and curry anyway! 

Today's post is all about avocado.  Hot damn.

When it comes to "superfoods," avocado is my favorite. I'm sure that comes as no surprise to anyone. It's truly a unique fruit. Hey, did you know avocado is technically a fruit?

Monounsaturated Fats // Avocados are a perfect example of why fat isn't bad news for your heart. Avocados are a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats, a type of fat that can help lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol. An medium Hass avocado has about 15 grams of healthy monounsaturated fat, about two thirds of its total fat content. One small study that specifically looked at avocados found a high monounsaturated fat diet lowered total cholesterol by 17% and lowered LDL and triglycerides by 22%. Good HDL cholesterol was increased by 11%.

Carotenoids // Avocados contain multiple carotenoids, including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Carotenoids are a plant pigment that your body turns into vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant. Since vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and avocado is a high fat food, your body is better able to absorb the carotenoids in avocado. If you consume other carotenoid rich foods with avocado, your body can better absorb the carotenoids in those foods as well. Carotenoids like to hang out close to the skin, so make sure you scoop out all the flesh.

Liver Protection // Rat studies suggest avocados may play a role in liver protection. In one study, rats were fed 22 different fruits then injected with a potent liver toxin.  The rats fed avocados suffered the smallest amount of damage to their liver. It's unclear if this translates into a benefit for humans, but since there are so few medical treatments for hepatitis, this research is exciting!

Potassium // Think a banana is the best source of potassium?  Well, an avocado has almost twice the amount of potassium of a medium banana. Why is potassium so important? I like to think of it as anti-salt. A high sodium diet can raise blood pressure levels, while a diet rich in potassium can help lower it.

Blood Sugar Regulation // Avocados are a helpful food for glucose control. Despite being low in total carbohydrate, they are high in fiber, with about 10 grams in a cup. Often, diabetics are told to eat a serving of protein at each meal and snack to help prevent spikes in blood sugar. But if you look at the research, fat seems to have a more beneficial effect for preventing fluctuations in blood glucose.

Cancer Prevention // Studies on avocados and chemoprotection have mainly been conducted with avocado extracts and cancer cells, however the results have been impressive.  Extracts of avocado seem to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation in healthy cells, making them more resistant to cancer proliferation, while inducing apoptosis (a fun way of saying death) in cancer cells.

Anti-Inflammatory // Avocado's are packed with all sorts of anti-inflammatory nutrients. Previously mentioned carotenoids, besides being antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory as well.  Avocados contain phytosterols, well known for lowering LDL cholesterol, but may also have anti-inflammatory effects. Avocado's also contain a small amount of alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega 3 fatty acid.

Clearly, we all need a little extra avocado in our life and guacamole is my favorite way to do it. Meet guacamole 2.0.

In lieu of the traditional cilantro, onion and lime, this guac is spiced with mustard seeds, curry and spicy serrano chile. With the mustard seeds, it actually reminds me of a favorite late night snack my roomie and I ate freshman year of college, fresh avocado dipped in mustard.  I know, most students order pizza, I ate superfoods. I guess I was meant to be a dietitian.

Avocado with Mustard Seeds

Serves: 1 1/2 cups

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Indian curry powder
  • 1 small Serrano chili, partially seeded and minced

Instructions

  1. Cut each avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt, and most of the cilantro. Mash the avocado with a fork until it's a chunky puree.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a small skillet on medium-high. Add the mustard seeds. Watch for them to pop, keeping a lid on hand in case they pop out at you. Cook for one minute, then stir in the onion. Saute for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Stir in garlic, curry powder and chili. Cook for 10 seconds, remove from heat, and stir in avocado mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature with whole grain pita, tortilla chips, or fresh vegetables.