Pump in the nutrients by eating pumpkin!

Pump in the nutrients by eating pumpkin!

It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?

 

Today’s Focus is on PUMPKIN

It’s that time of year again! Pumpkins are popping up all over the place. You can hardly walk into a store of any kind without seeing one of these great orange orbs either used in the shop’s decor, or being sold in some capacity.

If you don’t go any farther in your consumption of pumpkins than a slice of pie at Thanksgiving, then boy oh boy are you missing out on some amazing (and delicious) nutrition.

Why are pumpkins so good for us?

Carotenoids: Just like carrots, pumpkins have a high level of carotenoids to thank for their orange color. These carotenoids help protect our eyes, can prevent premature aging and they can stave off disease. Sign me up!

Vitamins & Minerals: Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin C which can protect against cancer, Vitamin A which can boost immunity, Magnesium for healthy teeth and bones, Zinc which supports bone density and Potassium which can prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Fiber: Pumpkins are an excellent source of dietary fiber which helps keep us regular! This fiber also leads to healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Low cal: Pumpkins are low in calories and fat.

Diuretic: Pumpkins act as natural diuretics, meaning they flush toxins out of our bodies.

Get happy: Pumpkins can aid in relieving depression thanks to their L-tryptophan containing flesh.

And don’t even get me started on how healthy pumpkin seeds are for you! I’ve dedicated a whole article on them recently.

I think we can agree that pumpkins are worth eating! But you might not want to hoe into one of the ornamental ones. Some pumpkins are meant for eating and some are only meant for decorating with!

 

That brings me to our Trick:

Don’t just reserve pumpkin for pies! Use pumpkin puree in place of oil in your baking recipes or even put some in your soups and chillis. The velvety texture is lovely but the taste is very mild.

 

And your Tip:

There is nothing wrong with eating pumpkin puree from the store as long as it is actually pumpkin. Yes, buyer beware! If you want to eat pumpkin for its health benefits, read that label. Making your own pumpkin puree is laborious but it’s not really that hard. And it freezes like a dream.

 

And your Pumpkin Recipe:

Print Recipe
Pumpkin Bean Soup
Course Soups & Stews
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Soups & Stews
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a blender, process cumin, black beans, onions, garlic, broth, and water at high speed until smooth.
  2. Transfer bean mixture to saucepan; stir in pumpkin and heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve in bowls; sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Recipe Notes

NUTRITION per serving: 110 Calories; 1g Fat; 8g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 367mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fat. Points: 2

SERVING SUGGESTION: Whole grain rolls and a big salad would be perfect!

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is a winter squash that gets its name from its acorn-like shape. The skin is usually green and the flesh is an appealing shade of orange that looks similar to pumpkin. The flavor of acorn squash is sweet and somewhat buttery. Many acorn squash cooking methods enhance these qualities by adding sugar and butter but it can also be served as a savory dish all on its own.

Acorn squash is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and beta carotene. Being fat free and low in calories is an extra bonus. Choose an acorn squash that feels heavy for its size and has smooth, dull skin. Acorn squash can keep for up to three months if stored in a cool, dry place.

Preparing an acorn squash is as easy as 1-2-3… 1. Cut the acorn squash open. 2. Remove the fibers and seeds. 3. Season and cook.

 

Here’s today’s TRICK:

The seeds can be seasoned and toasted just like pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack.

 

Here’s a TIP:

If you have trouble slicing your acorn squash open, pop it into microwave for a minute or two to soften it up a bit.

 

And your acorn squash RECIPE:

The most popular way to serve acorn squash is to cut in half, scoop out the seeds and then fill (did I just say FILL??… I mean spread) the center with butter and brown sugar. The halves are then placed on a baking sheet and roasted for about an hour or until soft. Cinnamon and nutmeg can be added to enhance the flavor.

A healthier way to serve acorn squash is to drizzle it with olive oil and chopped fresh rosemary before roasting. Acorn squash is also a wonderful candidate for pureeing to create an autumn soup. You can simmer onions, carrots, and celery together in some chicken broth, and then add some mashed cooked acorn squash and puree everything; add coconut milk to make it into a creamy soup (the chicken broth will add flavor). I like a little thyme and some sea salt and pepper to taste–talk about easy!

Shallot Secrets (shhh)

Shallot Secrets (shhh)

It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a trick and a tip about shallots, plus you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?

Shallots are in season right now across the US, so today we’re going to give you a trick, a tip and a fabulous recipe to use with this wee root vegetable.

Time to fess up y’all! Have you ever encountered a shallot in an ingredient list and tossed in an onion instead?

You might think that because shallots resemble onions that they taste the same. But that isn’t necessarily the case. If the recipe author wanted you to use an onion, he or she would have asked you to use an onion! 🙂

Onions have a more pungent flavor than shallots, so if you have family members who turn up their nose for onions, they might prefer shallots! While shallots taste a bit more mellow than onions, they are stronger in the nutrition department.

Shallots are full of antioxidants. They have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as well. Shallots will also provide you with potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron and calcium!

I like to use shallots in dishes when I don’t have time to wait for onions to caramelize (shallots cook faster than onions) and when I don’t want an overpowering onion flavor. Try them sliced on your pizzas or used to top a nice juicy burger.

 

Now, it’s time for your Trick:

Don’t buy shallots if they have soft spots, if they are sprouting or if they have any signs of black mold forming on them. Fresh shallots should have nice clean and dry skin.

 

Your Tip:

Use shallots within a week of buying them because they have quite a short shelf life. And store them in the refrigerator. They don’t keep very long at room temperature.

 

And your Shallot Recipe:

Print Recipe
Red Cabbage Slaw
Thinly sliced red cabbage, carrots and shallots in a white bowl on a concrete suface.
Course Side Dishes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Side Dishes
Servings
Ingredients
Thinly sliced red cabbage, carrots and shallots in a white bowl on a concrete suface.
Instructions
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients (apple cider vinegar through black pepper) in a large bowl; whisk until well blended.
  2. Toss in cabbage, grated carrots and shallots; coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

 

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What prickly plant can boost your magnesium levels?

What prickly plant can boost your magnesium levels?

It’s artichoke season, so today we’re going to focus on this spiky green veggie. After reading this post, you’re going to have a great tip, a trick and a brand new recipe focusing on this edible flower that grows mainly in California and in the Mediterranean.

Though artichokes are sharp and thorny and quite intimidating, the work you have to do to get to the good stuff is worth it. (The good stuff, by the way, is the heart of the artichoke, found beneath the hairy, inedible, ugly choke.)

Artichokes are delicious and they’re also rich in magnesium—a vital mineral that many of us don’t get enough of. (We need 300 milligrams of magnesium in our diets each day to maintain good health, and an artichoke provides you with 77 of those milligrams).

Not only are artichokes high in magnesium, but they’re also linked to reducing the risk of developing prostate cancer and leukemia. They’re high in fiber and they also aid in liver health.

Artichokes might look strange, but when you taste the sweet tender meat, you’ll know what all the fuss is about.

Now, it’s time for your Trick:

Use a set of kitchen shears to trim the thorny tips off the leaves (or the petals, whatever you want to call them) of the artichoke. Chop about an inch from the top of the artichoke and put the veggie in a pot of boiling water for about 40 minutes. You could also steam the artichoke for 15 or 20 minutes, which is how I prefer to prepare them.

Your Tip:

Don’t discard the delicious tender petals of the artichoke to get to the heart. Use the leaves for scooping up your favorite dip! Or dip them in a mixture of lemon juice and melted butter. Mmm!

And your Artichoke Recipe:

Spanish Paleo Lasagna
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup Paleo marinara sauce
1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
3 cups arugula

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, place first 9 ingredients (ground beef through black pepper). Using your very clean hands, blend well. Press mixture evenly into a 9- x 13-inch baking pan coated with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until beef has browned on the outside and is cooked through.

Remove from oven, draining off excess fat. Spread marinara sauce, artichokes, olives and sun-dried tomatoes in even layers over the meat. Return to the oven and bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until sauce has set and toppings have softened. Remove from oven, top immediately with arugula then and serve.

 

Summer’s Fresh Corn

Summer’s Fresh Corn

Right now, fresh corn on the cob is at its seasonal best and even better, cheapest price. Locally grown stuff can be had for mere pocket change at produce stands all over the country. Take advantage of the season and have a meal of just corn!! YUM!

 

Here’s today’s TRICK:

When buying corn, get the freshest possible stuff you can find. The sugars in the corn quickly become starch and the flavor just isn’t the same. Look for fresh ears with silk that hasn’t even started to brown yet. Pull down one of the husks and check it out before you buy or you may take home a bunch of worms or lousy corn, eewww!

 

Here’s a TIP:

GRILL your corn! Hey, if you’ve got the grill already fired up, why heat up the kitchen with a pot of hot water? Clean the corn and throw it RIGHT on the grill. You can move it around for about 5 to 10 minutes on the grill grates, depending on how hot it is. I just like my corn to get nice and marked up. Pull it and keep it warm. Once you’ve had grilled corn like this, you’ll never want anything else!

 

And your fresh corn RECIPE:

Okay, so if you’ve grilled your corn, then I have a recipe for a compound butter you’ve just gotta try! It’s the BEST thing going… absolutely LOVE it!

Using a knife, rub a big blob on your corn and dig in! You won’t need any salt or anything, just this delectable butter, yum!

Print Recipe
Spicy Compound Butter
fresh compound butter in a hinged-lid jar next to a bulb of garlic
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings
Ingredients
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings
Ingredients
fresh compound butter in a hinged-lid jar next to a bulb of garlic
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whip together all ingredients using an electric beater or do it by hand.
  2. Once everything is well combined, place it in a sealed container and keep in the fridge till ready to use.
Recipe Notes

Makes enough for about 8 ears of corn.

Tips, Tricks, & a Recipe: Basil

Tips, Tricks, & a Recipe: Basil

Fresh basil is one of the most heady, aromatic herbs and the smell of it makes me think of summer. Love dried basil in soups and stews, love fresh basil in salads, pesto (of course), pastas, brushetta and anything else I can think of. This is one my most favorite fresh herbs!

But it isn’t just the flavor that is so good—it’s also good for you. Basil is high vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin A, plus lots of trace minerals. Add to that the fact its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities make it a healing herb, what’s not to love about basil?

 

Here’s today’s TRICK:

Grow your own! It is so easy to grow in the ground, a container or with a start from a nursery. When you take the leaves off the top, it will keep growing until your first frost.

 

Here’s a TIP:

Remember just the leaves; the stalks are bitter. To make a chiffonade (thin ribbonlike slices of fresh basil), take all your leaves, pile them on top of each other, roll them up like a big cigar then using kitchen shears, snip away. Fast and easy!

 

And your Basil RECIPE:

Print Recipe
Pasta Salad Primavera
colorful shell pasta in a wodden bowl on a black surface
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings
people
Ingredients
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings
people
Ingredients
colorful shell pasta in a wodden bowl on a black surface
Instructions
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, steam the carrots (for 4 minutes) then add zucchini cook till just until tender, another 3 to 5 minutes. Place in a bowl with ice to stop cooking, then drain and add the vegetables in a large bowl, along with the bell pepper, onion and corn.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add pasta to bowl and toss lightly.
Recipe Notes

Per Serving: 203 Calories; 15g Fat; 2g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 30mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve with a big green salad.

 

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