Oktoberfest Time

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warendorfWhen I think of Oktoberfest, I remember my trip to Munich where my husband and I drank from heavy glass liter mugs of beer, ones that I could barely lift while the Oom-pah band played merrily in the background.

Plates of rich grilled sausages sailed through the air, shouldered on waitresses trays. Since I’m a huge fan of spicy, I opted for the spicy mustard with my tender veal sausage — just as my husband pointed out that traditionally it’s served with a sweet mustard.

Moments later, I heard “Miss, miss!” from a lederhosen-clad German patron across the table from me — “You’re eating the wrong mustard with that!”

There are definitely traditional ways of doing things in Germany!

Beers

beerbottlesBeer is serious business to Germans, they even have a law about its purity called the Reinheitsgebot.

No matter what your beer preference is, you can certainly dabble in different styles and flavors. Start with Pilsner, it’s a young beer made with grains and hops, has a mild flavor that pairs easily with most foods and is light in color, flavor, and aroma.

If you’re looking for something on the darker, more robust side, go for a brown ale or porter style. They are malty, strong and slightly sweet — I would say even a a touch of the sweet and sour.

Want to learn more about beer? If you have a hankering for something frothy with a softer lemony taste, go for a Bavarian-style Hefeweizen that’s made with a special formula of 50% malted wheat with yeast (and something with exotic spices added)!

The body is much heavier compared to lager and great for newbie beer drinkers who crave something sweeter. just follow this handy guide.

Main Courses

cabbageSausages are a mainstay at most Ocktoberfest tables, but they can be loaded with fat and a bit tricky to digest.

That doesn’t mean you have to pass completely on the wursts, just opt for chicken or turkey sausage that are full of savory spices and herbs. To give them extra flavor, cook them on an indoor grill and serve them up with a side of healthy sauteed red cabbage with caraway seed.

Pan Roasted Red Cabbage with Caraway Seed

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head red cabbage, cut into 16 wedges
1 tablespoons caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the cabbage wedges and reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle with the caraway seeds, salt, and black pepper. Cover and cook 10 to 12 minutes, until the cabbage browns well. Turn the cabbage, add the butter and drizzle with the vinegar. Cover and cook 4 minutes until the cabbage is soft. Serve immediately.

If sausage is not your thing, try schnitzel! No it’s not a sausage as most Americans believe, rather it’s a crispy breaded cutlet, my personal favorite.

You can make a wide variety of them from chicken to pork, and even thinly sliced salmon filet — so follow this easy step-by-step guide for making crispy cutlets that everyone will love!

Want to add more nutrition and texture to the breadcrumb coating? Start with 1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs and sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of flax for more fiber or 1 tablespoon chia seeds for more protein and omega-3’s. Or opt for nuts: add 1 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts and stir into the breadcrumbs before breading.

chicken-schnitzelTake four (3-ounce) protein filets (chicken, pork, or fish filets) and sprinkle them with salt and a few tablespoons of flour. Place 2 eggs in a shallow bowl and whisk. Place 1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs on a plate. Dip the floured filets into the egg, then press into the breadcrumbs. Transfer to a plate and chill, covered, in the fridge for 30 minutes. The chilling step is the secret to perfect cutlets, since chilling will help the breadcrumbs adhere properly to the protein and not fall off during cooking.

Warm two large skillets with 2 tablespoons of olive oil each, over medium high heat. Add two filets to each and cook, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice until the meat is cooked inside the the crust is crispy.

Sides

Kale, known as “Grünkohl” in Germany, makes the ideal side dish or salad and just happens to be one of the healthiest foods on earth!

Low in calories, high in vitamin A, C, B, K and high in minerals, iron, magnesium and manganese, kale also has a stunning array of sulfur compounds that detox your liver and your brain.

The trick to making kale tasty is to soften the leaves. For a salad, discard the stems, and thinly slice the leaves. Squeeze the leaves with your hands to “bruise” them and then drizzle with olive and a pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight to soften the leaves further.

Try adding seasonal fruits and other add-ins to spice it up. Apples, orange wedges, dried cranberries, cherries, or goji berries, or even pieces of roasted squash all make great additions. Vinegars such as balsamic, red wine, apple cider and tarragon all taste great on kale, and you can use any healthy oil you like, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil or safflower oil.

Cinnamon Cardamom Apple Chunks
cardamom-applesApple sauce served alongside tasty sausage or crispy schnitzel hits the spot! It’s so easy to make and will keep in your fridge for up to 1 week.

To make it ahead of your feast, simply peel and cube 4 apples (any variety) and place in a saucepan with 1 inch of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom and cook 15 minutes until soften. Sweetened to taste with honey, brown sugar, or stevia.

Condiments

No all mustards are alike as I learned from my dinner at the Hofbrauhaus! Mustard is a naturally healthy condiment, it’s low in calories and fat, and mustard has antibacterial properties and is being studied for its potential to zap pathogenic bacteria in foods.

Desserts and Drinks

German Spice cake will feed a huge crowd. Have guests who are not beer lovers? Warm them up with a sweet glass of mulled wine, to shake off the chill of rainy fall weather.

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