Creative Cooking: Prunes and Beets

“It’s so beautiful!”

My son has always been afraid of thunderstorms, despite everything my husband and I have done to convince him that he has nothing to fear.

Last week, however, we had a three day heat wave; and one night the hot temperatures brought severe thunderstorms. As I was driving home from a meeting, I noticed that the heat was causing an electrical storm to light up the sky a few miles away. I rushed home, yelled at my children to hop into the car, and drove back up to the main road.

As my son watched the “lights” in the sky, he commented on their beauty and suggested we put on some Beethoven to match the rhythm of the lightning. After several minutes of watching, he didn’t want to return home, though, finally, reluctantly, he did allow me to drive home.

As we drove, I asked him what he thought about thunderstorms now, and he said he never realized they could be so beautiful.

His reaction to the lightning storm is similar to what I hear people say about unusual foods like prunes and beets. So often, people “don’t like” them without having tried them. They think they know enough to make a finite decision about them, when really they don’t.

Prunes are high in fiber and don’t cause the same types of spikes in sugar levels while delivering a wonderful sweetness to anything you put into them. Beets are high in vitamins and minerals and fiber, and like prunes, have a naturally sweet taste. As such, both prunes and beets are great additions to desserts. Below are a muffin and a bread recipe I just recently created for the fun of it.

Banana Beet Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (ripe means they’re spotted brown on the peel)

3/4 cup roasted chopped beets (about two; roasting beets brings out their flavor more; then I just chopped them up in the food processor — you can also now buy the beets already cooked up in packages in the stores if you don’t want to cook them yourself!)

1/2 cup safflower oil

1/2 cup Agave

1 egg

2 cups gluten free flour blend of your choosing (I used a combination of flours which mixed garbanzo bean, sorghum, and brown rice flours with potato starch and tapioca flour)

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 5 pan with parchment paper so that the paper is sticking out of the pan for lifting purposes.
  2. Combine the bananas, beets, oil, agave and egg. Put aside.
  3. Mix the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet with the apple cider vinegar and quickly mix everything together until the dry ingredients are completely moistened.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and let it sit for about five minutes before putting it into the oven.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the bread if puffed, a golden red hue, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool for five minutes on a wire cooling rack in the pan. Then use the parchment paper wings to remove the bread from the pan. Cool for another 10 to 15 minutes before removing the parchment paper and allowing the bread to cool completely.

Breakfast Prune Muffins

Ingredients:

9 ounces of pitted, chopped dates

2 tbsp garbanzo bean flour

1 cup gluten free rolled whole oats

1 cup boiling water

2 tbsp ground golden flaxseed

6 tbsp water

1 cup gluten free oat flour

1 cup garbanzo bean flour

2/3 cup potato starch

1/3 cup arrowroot starch

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp ginger

1 cup blueberries

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (optional, but my children like it with them when I make them as a snack food for afterschool)

Four 6 inch bananas (comes to about 1 1/4 cups mashed)

1/2 cup safflower oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners or grease them so the muffins won’t stick to your pan.

2.  Put the prunes and flour into a food processor and finely chop the prunes into tiny pieces. (This will distribute the prunes throughout your batter.)

3. Mix the finely chopped prunes with the oats in a bowl, and pour the boiling water over them, pushing the prunes and oats down into the water so they are covered. Let sit.

4. Whisk together the flaxmeal with the water, and set aside.

5. Whisk together the oat flour, garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, arrowroot starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger.  Stir in the blueberries and chocolate chips and set aside.

6. Mash the bananas and mix with the oil and the prunes and oatmeal mixture and the flaxmeal mixture.

7. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients along with the apple cider vinegar. Mix up quickly just until the dry ingredients are moist.

8. Evenly scoop the muffin batter among the 24 muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes or until the cupcakes are golden and puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

9. Remove the muffins to a wire rack and cool completely.  These keep well in a tightly covered tupperware container.

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