Pumpkin For Your Health

pumpkin

Well, I just can’t get enough of the availability of squashes this time of year!!! When I think of fall foods, pumpkin is one of my all-time favorites. Not just for entertainment purposes, such as piling the family into the car and driving to the pumpkin patch to choose pumpkins to carve or use for home décor, but for nutritional purposes, as well. Pumpkins are so packed with nutrition, that this cannot go unmentioned. I encourage you to create an activity with your family where you cut into your pumpkin to gather all the goodness packed inside and take advantage of the low-cost nutrition. The kids will have fun getting messy while working with foods from the earth!

Just the other day I dug into one of my pumpkins to scoop out the seeds to toast for snacking, and to make a batch of the most interesting, scrumptious salsa I’ve ever eaten. (recipe found in previous post from 11/19/2014).

Last night I attended a Halloween dinner party and had a lovely pumpkin soup with bacon. The hint of bacon gave the soup a really nice smoky flavor. I have had pumpkin or squash soup with coconut milk or curry, but not with bacon. I strongly encourage you to try preparing this pumpkin soup (yes, you can substitute with another squash).

Pumpkin Soup with Bacon         makes about 8 cups                                                                                   Food_SoupLARGE

1/3 pound of bacon
1 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 clove of garlic, minced
3 # of squash or pumpkin flesh, seeded, peeled and cubed
5 C of water or low sodium chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 T fresh thyme leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds
thick slices rustic bread

Fry the bacon in a soup pot. Remove the bacon and drain. Pour off one tablespoon of the fat into a medium-sized frying pan, leaving the rest in the pot. You just need enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Discard remaining fat.

Sauté the onions in the fat until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook gently for about 2 minutes or until it is fragrant. Add a pinch of salt and some pepper. Add the squash and water, bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook until the squash is very soft, about 20-30 minutes. Puree the soup until very smooth.

While the soup is simmering, spread bread with olive oil and toast. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the bacon in each bowl. Garnish with the thyme leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with toasted bread.

Bon Apetite!

 

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The Ultimate Tomato Pie

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Last weekend I was in the lovely city of Louisville, Kentucky watching my son participate in an Ironman competition. We had the pleasure of staying with friends who are avid cooks, gardeners and lovers of the good, simple things in life. When the grueling Ironman was complete, all of us sat down to a lovely home-prepared, comforting meal of perfectly grilled steak, freshly tossed salad and one of the most sumptuous items I have put in my mouth in a long, long time….a tomato pie prepared with heirloom tomatoes from their shared garden. Oh my gosh!! As I sat at the kitchen counter watching Elizabeth effortlessly toss this pie together, I took notice because of the ease of the preparation which included only 5 ingredients. Needless to say, as the 5 of us were devouring the entire plate of nutritious goodness, along with the steak and fresh salad (which were delicious in their own right), I promptly snagged the recipe from her to share with you. Talk about one celebratory meal that was about easy, nutritious, and absolutely divine………ummmmm:)

Tomato Pie

1 pie crust (you can use the refrigerated Pillsbury crust or your favorite recipe)
2-4 tomatoes (depends upon size and type of tomatoes)
1 sweet onion
fresh basil leaves
shredded cheese: a combination of parmesan, gouda and Havarti works well

Unroll pie crust in dish. Layer the ingredients on top of crust. Bake at 350 until bubbly:)

Bon Apetite!

Chicken and Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

I told you I make a lot of soup during this time of year! This soup takes advantage of quick-cooking ingredients-chicken breast, bagged spinach (or frozen) & canned beans. It features a simple homemade basil pesto swirled in at the end to add a fresh herb flavor. I found it at eatingwell.com in 2009 & have prepared it countless times, of course adding any additional veggies which I have in my fridge. It is absolutely delicious, nutritious, easy & quite satisfying! Serve alongside a slice of rustic bread & you have one healthy, light meal!

5 servings, about 1 ½ cup each

Ingredients:

2          tsp plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
1          boneless, skinless chicken breast, approximately 8 oz.
½        cup carrot or diced red bell pepper (I always add additional veggies and much more than the recipe states)
1          large clove garlic, minced
5          cups reduced sodium chicken broth (I use my homemade veggie stock. See post for recipe from February 10)
1 ½     Tbsp dried marjoram
6 oz     spinach, coarsely chopped (yes, I add more:)
15 oz   can cannellini beans
¼        cup grated parmesan cheese (make sure you use good quality, fresh cheese)
1/3      cup lightly packed basil leaves, freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preparation

  1. Heat 2 tsp oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrot & chicken; cook, turning chicken & stirring frequently, until chicken begins to brown. Add garlic & cook, stirring for 1 more minute. Stir in broth & marjoram, bring to boil. Reduce heat & simmer, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add spinach & beans to pot & bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  3. For pesto: combine the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, cheese & basil in food processor. Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water & scraping down the sides, as necessary.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Stir chicken & pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot.

Per serving: 204 calories; 8 g fat; 16 g carb; 18 g protein; 6 g fiber; 691 mg sodium

 

Bon Apetite!

A Way to Warm Your Cool October Mornings: Lemon and Cardamon Muffins

Being that the cooler weather is upon us, I thought I would use that as an excuse to make these interesting and nutritious muffins. I found the recipe from The Culinary Institute of America. What caught my attention was the first ingredient: chickpeas….in muffins!! Honestly, I had not thought of baking with them until I saw this recipe. The more I work with chickpeas, the more I appreciate their versatility. When pureed, their texture is quite easy to work into so many recipes. While I did not have cardamom, I substituted cinnamon and nutmeg. The addition of ground almonds to the batter contributes a hearty nuttiness as well as healthy fats. Once I tossed the ingredients together & folded in the egg whites, they baked in a few short minutes. The house smelled great & I had these warm little bundles of nutrition alongside my berries and hot tea! Not only were the muffins delicious, but they sure started my day off on the right foot! So, think ‘outside your box’ & try this very worthwhile recipe……you won’t be disappointed:)

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LEMON AND CARDAMON MUFFINS                   Yield: 12 muffins

  • 1 ¾ cups chickpeas (a 15-ounce can), drained and rinsed
  • Zest from two lemons
  • Zest from one orange
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil.             *I actually used canola oil
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt                                   *I omitted the salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom        *I used a mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg,  closer to 1 teaspoon
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon ground almonds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

Purée the chickpeas in a food processor until smooth.

Add the lemon and orange zest and juice, olive oil, sugar, and egg yolks. Purée until smooth.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Stir in the chickpea mixture, then add the ground almonds.

Whisk egg whites until they hold semi soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter.

In a small bowl combine the ground almonds, sugar, and cardamom. Set aside.

Scoop batter into muffin tin. You can use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to do this, but you’ll only need to add a generous ¼ cup of batter to each muffin cup. Sprinkle the muffin batter with some of the almond-sugar-cardamom mixture.

Bake 12 to 13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Nutritional information per serving (one muffin) :
Calories: 170 ⁄ Protein: 4 g ⁄ Carbohydrate: 23 g ⁄ Fiber: 3 g ⁄ Sodium: 230 mg
Saturated fat: 1 g ⁄ Polyunsaturated fat: 1 g ⁄ Monounsaturated fat: 5 g
Trans fat: 0 g ⁄ Cholesterol: 31 mg

Bon Apetite!