Here’s a delicious vegan dish that’s perfect for heart health and a Valentine’s dinner. Red kuri squash hails from Japan and has brilliant orange flesh. And the skin is edible too! It’s not such a struggle to cut, and the flavour almost has a buttery nutty overtone. We paired it with a filling made of powerful nutrients that will keep your cardio ticking well.
If kuri squash is hard to find, switch it up with a kabocha or acorn squash. If pomegranates aren’t to be found, substitute with dried cranberries or golden raisins that have been plumped in warm water.
Chinese five-spice powder
A tasty seasoning to have on hand for a myriad of dishes, Chinese five-spice powder is delicious sprinkled over chicken, pork, or glazed carrots and is so easy to make on your own. In dry pan, toast 5 whole star anise pods and 2 tsp (10 mL) peppercorns over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Transfer to spice grinder along with 1 1/2 Tbsp (22 mL) fennel seeds. Pulse until finely ground. Pass through sieve into small bowl. Stir in 1 Tbsp (15 mL) ground cinnamon and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cloves. Store in tightly sealed jar for up to 6 months. Makes approximately 1/4 cup (60 mL).
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
Cut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Cut each half into 2 wedges. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, brush inside flesh with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake in centre of oven for 35 to 45 minutes, flipping wedges once halfway through baking, until squash is tender when pierced. Remove from oven and set aside while preparing filling.
While squash bakes, prepare filling. In large dry saucepan, toast wheat berries for a few minutes, stirring until they become fragrantly nutty. Add hot water, pouring in slowly as it will sputter. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and, with lid ajar, simmer berries for about 1 1/4 hours, or until tender but still firm. Drain and strain when berries are as tender as you’d like. Transfer to bowl. Add arils, hazelnuts, hemp hearts, parsley, and Chinese five-spice. Drizzle with orange juice and gently fold together to evenly blend. Add more seasonings, to taste, if you wish.
To serve, place 2 wedges of squash on each serving plate. Spoon filling overtop. Dollop each with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) yogurt and garnish with sprigs of parsley.
You might think of protein as something you mainly get from a meal and, therefore, not a component of dessert. But, if you’re going to opt for dessert from time to time, why not consider working in ingredients that go big on this important macronutrient? It’s easier (and more delicious) than you may think! Protein is an essential part of every cell in your body and plays a starring role in bone, muscle, and skin health. So, certainly, you want to make sure you’re eating enough. And it’s best to spread protein intake throughout the day, since your body needs a continual supply. This is why it can be a great idea to try to include protein in your desserts. When protein is provided in sufficient amounts in a dessert, it may help you feel more satiated and help temper blood sugar swings. Plus, in many cases, that protein comes in a package of other nutritional benefits. For instance, if you’re eating a dessert made with protein-packed Greek yogurt, you’re not just getting protein; you’re getting all the yogurt’s bone-benefitting calcium and immune-boosting probiotics, too. Adding nuts to your dessert doesn’t just provide plant-based protein, but it also provides heart-healthy fats. Yes, desserts need not be just empty calories. Ready for a treat? These protein-filled desserts with a healthy twist are dietitian-approved—and delicious.
Tender tofu and fresh-tasting mango sauce combine to make a nutritious, Japanese-style dessert with little effort. But don’t worry: your dessert will not taste beany. Silken soft tofu has a rather neutral flavour. The key here is to use blocks of very soft tofu as opposed to firm or extra-firm versions. Silken tofu is undrained and unpressed tofu. It has the highest water content of all types of tofu and is made by coagulating soy milk without curdling it. It’s ultra-soft texture means it can be easily blended with other ingredients and used to boost protein numbers in puddings, cakes, tarts, ice cream, and even smoothies.
Fool is a classic English dessert made, traditionally, by folding a stewed fruit into a creamy, sweet custard. This modern take adds layers of sweet pumpkin flavour and swaps out much of the cream for higher-protein Greek yogurt. The crunchy chocolate topping is a special finishing touch. Beat it It’s the fat in cream that helps trap air bubbles that make it light and fluffy. If it gets too warm, the fat melts and the air escapes. Start with a cold bowl and beaters (or a cold balloon whisk, if you’re whipping by hand). Put your bowl (ideally a stainless one) and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes before whipping. They’ll chill easily and help keep everything cool during the whipping process.
Blondies are basically “blonde brownies.” There is no cocoa or melted chocolate in the batter of a blondie. Here, the nutritionally lacklustre all-purpose flour is swapped out for puréed beans for a higher dose of protein. The end result is just as tender and chewy without any noticeable bean flavour. A great potluck dessert option, too. If desired, chopped nuts can be used instead of chocolate chips. Squeeze play To easily fit a piece of parchment paper into a baking dish, run it under cold water for a couple of seconds, scrunch it up, and then squeeze out the excess moisture. Now it will effortlessly form into the pan.