YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Celebrate the Season!

It must be November because, once again, my counter is covered with pumpkins and onions. Here are two relatively simple but unusual (dare I say extraordinary?) recipes to use them up. Both are fantastic not just for any old day of the week, but also as impressive contributions to holiday celebrations. Make the onions the day before you need them, if possible, because no matter how great they turn out, they taste even better the next day!

1. Glazed Braised Onions
1 1/2 lbs. peeled yellow onions
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1-2 cups water
1 dry red chili pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt

Place the whole onions in a single layer in a large flat frying pan. Cover the onions with the white wine, diluted with water. Mix together the olive oil, salt, honey, chili pepper, vinegar and tomato paste in a separate bowl, and add to the onions. Cover the pan, and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has boiled away, and the onions begin to glaze. Continue to check and stir from time to time to prevent burning or sticking. Discard the red chili before serving.

Stuffed Pumpkin (dairy)
1 small-medium pumpkin
1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 pound cheddar cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 c. raw cashews
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
1/3 cup organic cream
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, grated
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a generous-sized cap from the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle, large enough so you can easily insert your hand to clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and inside of the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper. Place the pumpkin into a frying pan with raised sides, or use a Dutch oven just slightly larger than the pumpkin.

Toss together the rice, cheese, cashews, scallions, garlic, herbs and spices. Season with pepper and pack the mix into the pumpkin until almost completely filled. Add the nutmeg to the cream, and pour into the pumpkin. The ingredients should be very moist. Replace the cap.

Bake the pumpkin for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the contents are bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Remove the cap with 20 minutes to go so the top of the stuffing browns a bit. Serve in slices, like a pie.

To make this recipe vegan, substitute tofu (cubed) fried lightly in olive oil in place of the cheddar cheese, and use coconut cream instead of dairy cream.

Bon appetit!

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