Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hunger Awareness Month - Baked Apples, Sweet Potatoes and Dried Plums

As I continue talking about Hunger Awareness during the month of September, I will share with you some of the recipes we have been making for our daily lunch guests.  Remember, colorful food is full of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and healthy nutrition that is good for their bones and muscles.  We also want to serve tasty food that leaves them satisfied and happy.  Good food encourages conversation and feelings of comfort.  Not only are we dealing with homelessness and poverty, we are dealing with addiction and mental health issues that can be aided with good nutrition, compassion, and caring.

I have been going to the Farmer's Market and buying local ingredients that are seasonal and preparing them in healthy ways that also taste good.  We served the dish in the picture above as one of our sides last week.  When I was putting it together, many people kept commenting about what an odd combination it was.  My reply was just wait until you taste it.

I also try to incorporate ingredients that are available in the food pantry.  One of the USDA items available for food boxes were prunes (dried plums).  Lots of people didn't want to take them because they said they didn't like them.  Perhaps, they had never really had them, especially used in cooking.  Prunes are fantastic as a snack.  They are simply dried plums which is a much friendlier name than prunes.  Prunes are associated with old age and sluggish digestive tracts when actually they are sweet and hold amazing nutritional properties.  They are full of vitamins, anti-oxidants, they are superior for digestive health acting as a probiotic, they help lower cholesterol and are good for liver health.  The benefits are fantastic.  Look up the nutritional information, it will knock your socks off.

The combination of ingredients that everyone considered odd were apples, sweet potatoes and prunes.  Now, before you judge or say yuck, you really need to try this recipe.  It is like eating dessert it is so delicious.  I used Golden Delicious Apples, sweet potatoes, dried plums, brown sugar, some butter, and cinnamon, and just a little salt.  Wowsa, it got raves and several people said they would be making this recipe at home.

Since I am making quantities to feed 100+ people, it is hard to give you an exact recipe.  You can make this in a smaller quantity and just reduce the amount of the ingredients.  I don't really measure anything.

Here is what I did.

I cut Golden Delicious apples into 1 inch pieces.
Peel sweet potatoes, halve, then quarter them.  Cut them into 1 inch pieces.
I used a bag of dried plums and cut them into 1 inch pieces.

I put the apples, sweet potatoes and dried plums in a pan and tossed them with my hands.  (We do wear gloves at all times).

I melted a stick of butter and poured it over all the diced fruit and vegetables and mixed.  I sprinkled about 1/2 bag of brown sugar over the pan and cinnamon.  (lots of cinnamon).  Toss everything together and put it in the oven at 350 until the sweet potatoes and apples are soft.  Remember, this is a huge pan of ingredients and it took about 1 hour to bake.  Just keep testing the sweet potatoes with a fork.  When they are soft, it's done.

This is an easy and amazingly good side dish.  Everyone LOVED it.  There was not one tidbit of it left.  It would be an excellent side with any meat entree, or you could put a streusel topping on it made with flour, oats and butter and eat it as a dessert.  Yum!!  It would also be super good at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Because our budget per meal is limited, we have $100.00 for breakfast and lunch total, I really try to be creative, use local and fresh ingredients because it is less expensive and make the food delicious and nutritious.  Our cooking facilities are limited.  Our stove has only two burners that work and the oven.  There is a new kitchen in the future and we pray that is happens soon.  Of course, it depends on funds.  I must say, there is nothing as gratifying as seeing all the smiling faces asking if we have seconds and the daily thank you's for feeding them.  The challenge is more than worth the effort.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

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