Here is the transcript of the episode:

Welcome to the sensitive kitchen where home cooks are inspired to “Cook to Enable Those You Love to Flourish.” I’m Cindy Sullivan, registered dietitian, passionate nutrition educator, and accomplished home cook. Whether you’re changing how you cook for food sensitivities, allergies, intolerances, or just trying to eat healthier on a budget, you’re in the right place. Most episodes, I will share favorite recipes as well as modification tips and nutrition benefits. Occasionally I’ll have a guest or special episode like modifying holiday favorites. My favorite foods, they’re raspberries and homemade chocolate chip cookies. My latest cooking project was long fermented sourdough bread.

Today, we are going to talk about maple roasted pepitas with cranberries. Yum. It’s a wonderful snack for the holidays or really any time of the year, but it seems like around Thanksgiving, we start thinking about pepitas and pumpkin seeds. Pepitas are really just pumpkin seeds without shells. They’re a slightly different variety, but they’re pretty much pumpkin seeds without shells. This recipe is crunchy, sweet and tangy all in one. It’s a nut-free snack and treat for this holiday season that delivers a nutrient powerhouse, but you don’t have to tell the kids that.

Now many of you are looking for nut-free crunchy snacks this time of year. In our household, we avoid peanuts and we use walnuts and pecans sparingly. Many of you avoid nuts altogether, or you’re having company that avoids nuts. This recipe is a delicious treat. I buy pepitas that are already shelled and roasted from trader Joe’s. So it saves a step in this recipe. If you get them that are not roasted, or raw, that’s just fine. You’ll just want to roast them for about 20 minutes in a 300 degree oven, and then proceed with the recipe. I also use trader Joe’s dark maple syrup, a darker maple syrup will give you more maple flavor. They used to call it grade B, but then people thought it wasn’t as good. So now they’re calling it things like dark Amber maple syrup and the darker the maple syrup, the more maple flavor it has.

Let’s talk a little bit about these pepitas and why in the world would you want to eat them? Well, one ounce of pepitas provides more than a third of your daily recommendation for phosphorus, manganese and magnesium, a nutrient that many Americans are low in. One ounce of the pitas also gives you a quarter of the iron you need in a day and decent amounts of zinc and copper. Plus in one ounce of pepitas, you receive seven grams of protein, the same amount of protein as in one ounce of meat. In addition, you get antioxidants and polyunsaturated fat. You need some of that every day. It’s an essential fat.

Dried cranberries compliment the sweetness of the maple syrup and the richness of the pepitas. Now in this recipe, you can vary the spices. We like just a little bit of cinnamon and a little salt, but you can add allspice or cloves or ginger or cardamom. They would be great additions. A pumpkin pie spice would also be awesome. The tricky part of this recipe is that the maple syrup can remain sticky. So the cooking time is approximate. The mixture will continue to dry a little as it cools, but it needs to be fairly dry, just a little tacky before it comes out of the oven. You store it in an airtight container so it’ll stay crisp, and it’s easy.

Let’s talk a little bit about taste though. I mentioned it earlier, especially taste in snacks. These maple glaze pepitas have the subtle taste of maple and the tartness of dried cranberries combined with the richness of pepitas. Now, as I mentioned, you can add different spices to this and that will give it a more robust flavor, depending what you add and how much, and how much you add will depend on your current palette, which is influenced by a variety of things. So two things I want to talk to you about today that influence your taste are the amount of highly processed food you eat and the amount of salt you eat on a daily basis.

Think about this for a moment. Food companies spend millions upon millions of dollars, making sure that Doritos M&Ms and fast food sandwiches taste good. They run focus groups and taste panels, but nobody spends millions upon millions of dollars making sure that sweet potatoes or broccoli or green beans tastes good. Farmers don’t have that kind of budget for consumer research the big food companies like Kraft, Nestle, or ConAgra have. If your taste buds are used to being hit over the head with Doritos, you may find some of my recipes tasting bland. Initially, if that’s the case with this recipe simply increase the amount or the number of spices you add. If you find the subtle taste of a summer ripe tomato tantalizing by itself or with just a little sprinkle of salt, then you might want to use the level of spices that I suggest. Now let me encourage you, If you’re early in this journey of changing your taste buds, that your tastes do change over time. Let me give you two different stories to illustrate this point.

One is my family’s beloved tomato cream sauce recipe. It just has four ingredients. It is a very, very simple recipe, but the key is really ripe, wonderful tomatoes. It has just the right combination of a little sweetness, creaminess, a little bit of tanginess from the tomato. It’s awesome over pasta. I shared it one time with a cooking class I was teaching and some of the women, I heard some of the women discussing, how could they add herbs to increase the flavor in this tomato sauce? My family likes it the way it is, but I realized that for some of them, they were used to eating or liking a lot spicier food with a lot more different flavors in the food.

Let me tell you my second story. It’s about me and Doritos. Now, when I was in high school, I used to eat Doritos as a snack fairly regularly. We don’t keep flavored chips in our house. Currently they cause migraines at my son and we haven’t eaten them in years. But at family camp two summers ago, not last summer cause of COVID, there was no family camp, but we were at family camp two summers ago. And it was cookout night and they have little bags of individual chips. And I thought, Oh, I used to really like these. I haven’t had these in so many years. I’m going to try a bag of these little Doritos. And it was a very, very small, the teeny tiny bags of Doritos, like an ounce or something. I’m eating my dinner. And I get about halfway through this bag of Doritos and I can’t eat anymore.

My taste buds are overwhelmed because my taste buds have gotten used to eating less, knock your socks off, glutamate enhanced things. And we eat a lot of glutamate enhanced things like Parmesan cheese, but no added. So depending where you are at in this process, you may add more spices to this. You may add less spices to this. It’s a great recipe, but you’re going to have to find what works for you and for your family. We like the less spice version you might like the more spice version with perhaps some ginger or some cardamom or some extra cinnamon in here. I just want to encourage you that wherever you’re at in your, in your taste journey, it changes. And it won’t be like this forever, but you’ve been eating these things for a while. So it might take you a little while to change and that’s okay.

Thank you so much for today. I hope you enjoy this maple glazed pepita crunch or cranberry crunch or cranberry, whatever you want to call it. It’s a great recipe to put out during the holidays. It’s really fun.

If you’ve not subscribed, please do so. And soon the cooking framework quiz will be live on my website. And I want you to tune in to the next episode, because next time I have a very special episode with a variety of experts who have all been cooking for food sensitivities. For many years, they’re going to be sharing with me their best tips for holiday cooking. You don’t want to miss it.

Until then cook to enable those you love to flourish. Have a great day. Bye-bye.


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