By: Leanne Ely
It is definitely pumpkin season! We know all about those classic orange pumpkins, but what about the pretty blue pumpkins?
Queensland Blue is a gorgeous pumpkin with a light blue, silvery skin. It’s a variety that hails from Australia and was introduced to the United States back in 1932. The Queensland Blue looks quite similar to the Jarrahdale pumpkin—another Australian variety.
Some people think these pumpkins look quite similar to Frankenstein’s head when you look at them from the side, making them perfect for spooky fall decor—but rather than toss it in the compost, go on and eat it after it has served its decorative destiny!
This winter squash—as with all winter squash—is chock full of vitamins and minerals. The sweet flavor and dry flesh of the Queensland Blue make it excellent for baking with.
Now that you’re eyeing up your neighbors’ deteriorating fall display with visions of pie in your head, let’s take a look at your trick!
It can be hard to tell when a blue pumpkin is ripe. It’s ready to eat when the stem is dry and starting to wither.
The skin of a Queensland Blue is very hard, so use a good sharp knife to get into it, and take care of those fingers. Try cutting it in half and roasting rather than peeling and chopping. This makes it easier to separate the flesh from the skin.
Beefy Mushroom Soup
1 1/2 pounds 95% lean ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
12 oz sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 1/4 cups low sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (recipe below)
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup skim milk
In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, brown ground beef, onion, mushrooms and garlic over medium-high heat; drain off any excess fat. Add broths, water and pumpkin; stir until well blended, thinning with additional water if needed; season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add milk and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Cut top off of whole pumpkin. Cut in half, scoop out seeds pulp from center. Cut pumpkin into quarters or even eighths depending on how big it was to start!
Lay pumpkin on baking sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until pumpkin is fork tender. Let cool and then scoop the pumpkin away from the skin with knife or spoon. Process baked pumpkin in food processor until it is smooth.
By: Leanne Ely
Animal bones, including beef knuckles, chicken carcasses and ham hocks, are absolutely worth saving and cooking with. If you’re sticking to a grocery budget, you’ll be glad to know these animal bits are good and cheap (sometimes free if you can sweet talk your butcher).
Bones are full of minerals like calcium and phosphorous. And if the bones you’re cooking with still have some of the connective tissue attached, they also contain glucosamine, an important supplement to aid in bone and cartilage formation.
One of the best things about bones, of course, is that they contain marrow—one of the original superfoods! When bones are roasted, the marrow inside becomes nice and soft. Not only is bone marrow delicious, but it’s absolutely full of nutrients. Beef bone marrow, especially, is very rich in taste and it also contains calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium.
Now that I have you ready to dig into some bones, it’s time for your Trick!
Roast your marrow bones before simmering in water with a bit of cider vinegar to produce bone broth, a healing elixir great for your gut, your bones and teeth. The added step of roasting the bones will greatly enhance the flavor of the resulting broth.
To do this, simply put them in a roasting pan with garlic, onion, celery and carrot. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top or ghee and roast till browned (oven should be set at 325 to 350). Watch them—when they are browned up a little, they are done. No charred remains!!
Never throw bones away. Even if you just had a dinner of chicken thighs. Save the bones in a freezer bag and when you have a large amount, use them to make a nice batch of bone broth.
And your Recipe
Hearty Italian Meatball Soup
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 cups tomato sauce
3 cups beef bone broth
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup leeks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 cup chopped zucchini
In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, basil, oregano, and garlic. Make 1-inch meatballs until all of the meat is used, and place in bottom of slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine tomato sauce, broth, onion, bell pepper, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper and basil. Pour over meatballs. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Turn heat to high and add zucchini, stirring well, then recover and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until zucchini is tender-crisp. Serve immediately and enjoy!
PS–Only 3 days left in Crock-tober! Click here to get amazing new Crock Cooker menus!
By: Leanne Ely
Happy Tuesday, Y’all!
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?
Oh it’s autumn! And you know what that means, don’t you? A plethora of pumpkin seeds! I mean, who doesn’t equate fall with pumpkins? I love me some pumpkin puree and I love me some pumpkin seeds. Even though these little nuggets of wonderful are available year round, they’re best enjoyed when pumpkins are in season.
Did you know that Native American Indians held pumpkins and their seeds in very high esteem? They treasured them for their medicinal and dietary properties.
Some people refer to their pumpkin seeds as pepitas but it doesn’t matter to me what you call them, just trust me when I tell you that these little guys deserve a spot in your diet.
Pumpkin seed nutrition
Just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds provides you with almost 75% of your daily recommended dose of manganese, almost half of your daily requirement of magnesium and a good serving of nutrients phosphorus, copper, protein, iron and zinc.
Studies show that pumpkin seeds help promote good prostate health, benefit arthritis symptoms and they can also help to protect bone mineral density. Try to encourage your loved ones (especially men) to snack on these nutritional seeds. The bonus, of course, is that they taste delicious!
Speaking of how they taste, here are some suggestions for enjoying pumpkin seeds.
First of all, they are wonderful just taken right from the pumpkin, dried off and baked in a 170 F oven for 20 minutes. They’re best roasted at a low temperature for a short amount of time so that their healthy oils aren’t destroyed.
Eat them just like that or toss them into your stir-fry or salad. Put them through your coffee grinder and add it to your homemade vinaigrettes and even to turkey, beef or veggie burgers. Put them in your oatmeal, add them to granola and oatmeal cookies…the options are really limitless.
Here’s your Trick:
Keep your pumpkin seeds stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Try to eat them within 2 months to enjoy them at their freshest.
And your Tip:
If you’re buying pumpkin seeds in the store, try to smell them before you bring them home. Don’t worry about looking like a crazy pumpkin sniffer. If they’re musty or rancid smelling, leave them where they are!
And your Recipe:
Saving Dinner Salad with Pumpkin Seeds:
Toss the following ingredients
• 6 cups mixed salad greens (make sure some of it is spinach)
• 1 cup carrots, chopped
• 2 tablespoon red onion, chopped
• 1 Gala apple, cored, and cut into 1/4- inch cubes
• 2 tomatoes, diced
• Pumpkin seeds, sprinkled over the top
• 1/2 tablespoon honey
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1 squirt hot chili sauce (like Tabasco)
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Make as much of this dressing or as little as you want and store in the fridge to use anytime you need it.
By: Leanne Ely
Anyone who looks at a sweet potato and sees a funny looking regular old potato has a lot to learn about this nutritional powerhouse that tastes like dessert!
Sweet potatoes are amazing tubers that provide us with a tremendous amount of nutrition. And they really are delicious, to boot!
Most of us are familiar with the orange- or yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes, but if you ever manage to get your hands on the purple-fleshed variety, go ahead and get yourself some! The compounds that give them their color make them even more nutritious than their orange-fleshed counterparts.
Benefits of sweet potatoes
You may have been passing by sweet potatoes on your travels through the grocery store, likening them to the plain old white variety, but sweet potatoes are very good for us. Here are a few reasons why:
Beta-carotene. Orange-fleshed varieties are packed with beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A.
Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for eye and skin health. It protects us against cancer, colds, infections and the flu. It’s also key to the formation of teeth and bones, and it’s essential for our reproductive systems. One cup of sweet potato provides us with 438% of our daily recommended amount of Vitamin A.
Other minerals. Besides Vitamin A, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins C, E, B6, B5, B3 (BINGO! lol!), tryptophan, manganese, potassium, protein, folate, copper, calcium and fiber.
Antioxidants. Sweet potatoes are strong cancer fighters and they’re high in antioxidants. Purple-fleshed varieties are especially powerful as they contain peonidins and cyanidins which have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Low in calories. Sweet potatoes are a filling food and they’re packed with nutrition, yet a one-cup serving contains only 100 calories.
How to get the most benefit from your sweet potatoes
Did you know that eating 3-5 grams of fat with your sweet potato will help your body to get in more of the benefits from its beta-carotene? This is as easy as putting a drizzle of ghee or extra virgin olive oil in your mashed sweet potato.
Steaming and boiling are the cooking methods that will allow your sweet potatoes to retain most of their nutrients. Studies have shown that sweet potatoes end up at the lower end of the glycemic index when they’re boiled than when they’re baked or roasted. Slice your sweet potato into 1/2 inch slices and steam them for 7 minutes. Add some ghee or olive oil and a dash of cinnamon for a delicious side dish or just a sweet afternoon snack. Or you can try this recipe for sweet potato fries!
Cinnamon Vanilla Sweet Potato Fries
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon raw honey
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place sweet potatoes in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Then pour over potatoes and toss until evenly saturated. Spread out on a baking pan and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes or until tender and slightly crispy.
Hmmm . . . could anyone else go for a sweet potato right now?
PS–If you like this recipe, you’ll love my Crock Baked Sweet Potatoes from our BRAND NEW Crock-tober Bundle! That’s right, we’re celebrating Crock-tober all month! Click here to learn more
By: Leanne Ely
It doesn’t take long for those familiar comfort food cravings to set in with the onset of fall, does it? There are days that I would do just about anything for a big scoop of macaroni and cheese! But as much as I love mac and cheese, I just don’t eat that way anymore.
Lucky for me (and anyone else who loves comfort food), there are plenty of ways to serve up a comforting meal that isn’t loaded with calories and unhealthy ingredients.
Here are five ideas for comforting, nutritious foods for fall.
Sweet potato casserole. I don’t know about you, but for me, sweet potatoes are one of the most comforting of all foods. See how to make my Thanksgiving sweet potato recipe here!
Shepherd’s pie. I like making a lean version of shepherd’s pie on a regular basis. Fun fact: Did you know that if you don’t use lamb, it is referred to as cottage pie? Ground turkey is a nice lean option for this comforting meal. But I often use ground beef or a mixture of whatever grounds I have on hand. If you use sweet potatoes as your topping instead of whipped white potatoes, and toss in as many healthy veggies in between as you can, you have a lightened up version that will taste every bit as comforting.
Meatloaf. A meatloaf is a perfect canvas to stuff with healthy ingredients. I love grating veggies into my meatloaf. Zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes… yum. Again, try to use a mixture of ground turkey and lean ground beef for a comforting and healthy meal.
Soup. Soup is a no-brainer when it comes to comforting meals. Try my Beefy Mushroom Soup recipe here!
Dessert. When it comes to comforting fall desserts, I suggest reaching for fruit. Try this recipe!
Cardamom Poached Pears
1 pound pears (any kind), peeled
2 cups water
2 cups red wine
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
In a large pot, combine all ingredients except pears. Bring to boil over medium
high heat and then turn heat down to a low medium.
Add pears, cover and cook until very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve pears with sauce that will have reduced.
PS–My favorite fall month is Crock-tober! I have an amazing deal on BRAND NEW crock cooker recipes right now! Click here to learn more