In This Issue:
- Featured Recipe: Chicken Curry over Rice
- Myra's Kitchen Corner: Cooking Glorious Autumn Squashes
- Fight the Cold Weather Blues with Mood Boosting Foods
- Microgreens - The Next Big Thing in Nutrition?
- Recommended: Gadgets and Reading
- Take Our Survey
Myra's Kitchen Corner
Cooking Glorious Autumn Squashes
Glorious autumn squashes and pumpkins in a variety of shapes and sizes abound in greenmarkets and grocery stores at this time of year. In the video today, I go over a few ins and outs of cooking with these vegetables as well as demonstrate a delicious and easy recipe that works with many of the varieties available.
Here are six of my favorite types of squash among those that you're likely to see. Two that have sweet dry rich orange flesh include the forest-green kabocha squash and the flaming red kuri pumpkin. These are wonderful for soups, stews, roasting, or mashing. Of course, cutting into one of these tough guys can seem like a dangerous undertaking. Here's my favorite tip for handling an intimidating squash: turn the oven to between 325˚F and 375˚F (whatever is appropriate for the recipe), and simply toss the whole pumpkin into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. That little bit of precooking is enough to make it easy to cut down the middle of a hard squash with even a thin-bladed knife. You can even peel the skin easily and cube the squash as well. Here's an alternative method: simply bake the entire pumpkin without cutting into it first at all. If this is what you plan to do, make sure to place your squash on a baking tray, however, or you're in for a messy oven-cleaning job when the juices start to drip.
Another one of my favorite varieties includes the oblong delicata squash, characterized by its pale yellow skin with green stripes. The thin skin is eatable, so no need to peel these. To prep the squash, cut it lengthwise down the center, scoop out the seeds, and cut it into wedges. Toss the wedges in a little olive oil and salt, and roast for 20 minutes or so at 400˚F on a parchment-covered baking sheet.
The small sweet dumpling squash is a variety that is perfect for stuffing. Give it a preliminary 10-to 20-minute bake before cutting the top off and scoop out the seeds, then stuff the inside and bake until tender.
The football-shaped spaghetti squash is a fun variety with a stringy spaghetti-like texture. Initially, just toss the whole squash in the oven for about an hour. Have it sit out of the oven for a few minutes so it is soft and cool enough to handle. Then slice it down the middle, scoop out the seeds and scrape out the stringy flesh with a fork. Treat the strands like pasta and toss them with your favorite spaghetti sauce.
The workhorse of the squash world is the butternut. This variety is softer than some of the other types, so it doesn't need a head start in the oven before being cut or peeled. Treat it like two separate vegetables when dicing. The oblong part in the middle is dense, and it can be sliced like a potato: the bulbous bottom part contains all of the seeds, so it's best to cut that part into wedges first. Use a t-shaped peeler, the kind that takes thick skins off, to make peeling the squash efficient. For the oblong part, first cut a thin piece off the bottom to anchor the squash on your cutting board, then cut downward slabs. Cut the slabs into long "batons," then cut the batons into dice. When you roast the butternut squash, do so by slicing it down the center first and placing it face down on a parchment-covered baking sheet. It's so much easier to take out the seeds after the squash is cooked.
The recipe that I demo in the video is sautÃ©ed butternut squash with pears and ginger. The pears harmonize beautifully with the squash-they're both in season at the same time-and the ginger and cayenne add warmth to the dish. I start with some extra virgin olive oil. I warm a couple of tablespoons over medium heat in a large skillet. I then add the cubed squash with one diced pear-Comice, Anjou and Bartlett are all good-and cook uncovered over medium heat until the pieces are just tender and starting to brown, (about 6 to 8 minutes). I then push the squash to one side of the pan and add a tablespoon or so of butter (you can also use extra virgin olive oil). When the butter melts, I add the ginger and cook it a minute or so until fragrant. I then stir the ginger-along with Â½ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of cayenne-into the mix. I finish the dish by stirring in a splash of balsamic vinegar. This dish is fragrant, fast, and flavorful.
What a good time to get creative with all of the delicious varieties of squash that are out right now. They're not difficult at all to use, so have a wonderful time!
Fight the Cold Weather Blues with Mood Boosting Foods
As the colorful and crisp days of autumn change to gray and cold in many parts of the country, people can start feeling low and develop a bit of the doldrums. One of the best ways to fight off these cold weather doldrums and boost your mood may be to stock your pantry and refrigerator with the right comfort foods.
Some helpful eating tips to help fend off the cold weather blues and boost your mood:
- Combine high-quality carbohydrates with protein at every meal. This helps keep your blood sugar in balance and will help ward off the mood swings that can lead to the blues.
- Load up on foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Research shows eating omega-3s is associated with decreased risk of depression.
- Get enough vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin B12 and vitamin D have been linked to depression and seasonal affective disorder.
- Eat seasonally. Traditional cool weather dishes with root vegetables and other winter produce are delicious and naturally bountiful with mood boosting nutrients.
- Add warming spices. This includes flavors such as allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, curry and ginger. Their comforting flavors also give you an energy boost.
You might be surprised just how easy and delicious it can be to boost your mood with food as the weather changes. Here are a few of our favorites that can appeal to just about anyone:
- Dark chocolate. Indulge in dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa. It's loaded in antioxidants and is so delicious it is sure to put a smile on your face.
- Lentils and beans. Full of protein, high-quality carbohydrates and soluble fiber, they help keep you feeling full and steady your blood sugar to give you the energy and vitality to keep going.
- Sweet potatoes. This seasonal favorite root vegetable is a great source of high quality carbohydrates, vitamin A and beta-carotene. The good carbs in sweet potatoes release serotonin, which can keep blood sugar steady and help prevent mood swings. Vitamin A and beta-carotene in sweet potatoes can help ward off seasonal colds and flu.
- Pumpkin seeds. These are high in folic acid, which has been linked to energy. They are also good sources of tryptophan and magnesium, which can be mood boosting.
- Wild salmon. This delicious fish is rich in omega 3s, Vitamin D and other important nutrients. The omega 3s are anti-inflammatory which can help with mood and depression.
- Walnuts. They're rich in healthy omega 3s and add a delicious nutty crunch to salads, oatmeal, breads and other baked goods.
Microgreens - The Next Big Thing in Nutrition?
Everyone has heard of tender baby spinach and baby lettuce. Now even tinier greens are getting big attention in the food and nutrition world. Known as microgreens, they are tiny seedling forms of young edible greens like spinach, lettuce and red cabbage. They are harvested less than 14 days after germination and are usually 1-3 inches in height. Although relished by chefs in recent years for garnishes, salads, soups, sandwiches and other uses, they are just now getting notice for their nutrition benefits.
In a recent study, researchers looked at four groups of vitamins and phytochemicals - including vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene in 25 varieties of microgreens. The results, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that almost all of the microgreens had four to six times more nutrients than the mature leaves of the same plant. The nutrient levels in plants tested varied widely, however. For example, red cabbage microgreens had the highest concentration of vitamin C. Green daikon radish microgreens had the most vitamin E. All these nutrients are important for the skin and eye health and for fighting cancer and other conditions. Although more research is needed, it is worth remembering that these tender, tiny and colorful greens deliver more than just a colorful garnish to dishes. They could also be a significant source of vital nutrients.
Electronic Vibrating Fork - the HAPIfork
Every once in a while a quirky new kitchen gadget gets our attention. This time it is the electronic fork that vibrates when you eat too quickly. Called the HAPIfork, this electronic fork helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights when you are eating too fast. Research shows eating too fast can lead to poor digestion and poor weight control so if it can get you to slow down and enjoy your food, it might help you eat less.
Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Wellby David L. Katz M.D. and Stacey Colino
Ample scientific evidence shows not smoking, eating well, being active, and maintaining a healthy weight all play an enormous role in our health. In Disease-Proof, preventive medicine specialist Dr. David Katz reveals that we can reduce our risk of chronic disease by as much as 80 percent by using the right tools. In Disease-Proof, he draws upon the latest scientific evidence and decades of clinical experience to provide people with the tools to help manage their weight, improve immune function, reprogram genes, and help prevent many chronic diseases.
Disease-Proof is an informative and easy-to-understand book for anyone who wants to make lasting changes to help cut the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic illness.
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