You can tell by the bright yellow or orange flesh of winter squash (well, depending on the variety), that this fall harvest fruit is good for you. (Yes, squash is a fruit!) Winter squash, like acorn and butternut, are the more substantial varieties. And I’m sure you already knew it, but zucchini is considered a summer squash.
If you’re looking for some ideas about how to get more of this delicious fruit that’s easy to find, easy to cook and easy on the budget, I happen to have some fab suggestions for you. 😉
The following are five ways you can prepare squash to enjoy with your dinner this evening:
Roasted with root vegetables. If you’re roasting beets, parsnips or carrots, toss in some squash. You can also make it even easier and simply slice your squash in half, remove the seeds (save them to roast later), and roast in its skin at 375 for about 30–40 minutes, depending on the squash and its size. When dinner’s ready, scoop out the flesh of the squash and enjoy with some butter.
Mashed or puréed. You can steam your squash and mash it, just like you would with potatoes. I personally don’t care for this method as it’s not nearly as flavorful as roasting, but it’s a good way to bulk up a serving of mashed vegetables. Puréed squash also looks very pretty on a plate.
Souped up. Make a simple soup from your squash, and serve it as an appetizer. Or, bulk it up with more veggies and serve it as a main course.
Stuffed. You can stuff and roast just about any squash you would like. Imagine a beautiful spaghetti squash, sliced in half and stuffed with tomato sauce and meatballs. Or an acorn squash sliced and stuffed with sausage and apples. Use your imagination (and Google—you can find endless ideas for roasting squash.)
As noodles. You may already know that you can roast a spaghetti squash and scoop out its noodly flesh to eat as you would any traditional noodle. But if you have a vegetable spiralizer, you can also make noodles out of other types of squash like acorn or butternut, and gently steam them to serve for dinner. (You can find veggie spiralizers on Amazon.) The accord squash “noodles” are wonderful!
I hope I’ve inspired you to add squash to your menu this evening. 🙂
Are you suffering from OCS? Old Condiment Syndrome? You know what I’m talking about. Crusty ketchup bottles, icky, old Ranch dressing and ancient mustard?
Most of us have as many condiments as we do cleaning supplies. My dear friend Marla Cilley (AKA as the FlyLady) says she knows what’s lurking under your sinks (more cleaning supplies than a janitorial service needs). Well, I know what you have in your refrigerator doors. Fossilized condiments! And more than a busy hotdog stand in New York City needs, too!
Did you know the refrigerated shelf life for mayonnaise is two months? It is! So guess what? Today is the day you get to toss that stuff and get a new one. Listen, if you don’t use it often enough, buy a smaller jar. Even though it costs more money, it really is the cheaper way to go. You don’t need nasty old mayo in your fridge!
Here are some more items you probably have languishing in the doors of your fridge or way in the back:
1—Mustard. Not just the yellow kind, but Dijon, honey mustard, brown mustard and that teeny, tiny jar of gourmet mustard from the gift basket you received over the holidays with the funky taste. No one likes it, but instead of throwing it out, you put it in the fridge. Why? Toss it! Shelf life: 6-8 months in the fridge; 2 years unopened in a pantry.
2—Jams and Jellies. The other day, I pulled out a raspberry jam that had a “best used by” date of 4/5/16. YIKES! I bet you have some of those too! Time to chuck them as well! Shelf life: 1 year in the fridge; 1 year unopened in the pantry.
3—Salad Dressings. A lot of commercial salad dressings have enough preservatives in them to embalm you. However, nothing lasts forever. If they’ve been opened for more than 3 months in the fridge, they’ve gotta go too. Unopened, they’ll last a year in your pantry.
4—Pickles. I think I’ve had the same jar of pickles in my fridge since I’ve had the raspberry jam. The issue for pickles is they don’t last as long as jam in the fridge! Only 1-2 months opened and in the fridge. For the pantry shelf? One year unopened. Time to ditch your pickles!
5—Ketchup. I don’t even want to know how old my ketchup is. Let’s just say probably from the same era as the pickles and the raspberry jam. Truth is, it’s only good for about 2 months in the fridge. Unopened and on the pantry shelf, it can last a year before it needs tossing.
6—Salsa and Hot Sauce. Guess what? Once your hot sauce or salsa is opened, it’s good for just a month in the fridge! Don’t wait for it to mold; throw it OUT! Unopened, it’s good for a year on your pantry shelf.
7—Olives. Oh yes, I confess. My olives are refrigerator pals with the jam, ketchup and pickles! Out they go; they only last a month opened in the fridge. They’ll last a year unopened in your pantry though!
Well, that’s quite a condemning list, isn’t it? The question is how to know how old everything is? One rule of thumb if there is no date on the jar or package and if you don’t remember when you opened it, it’s probably a good idea to toss it.
How can you avoid Old Condiment Syndrome? By marking your condiments on the label with a Sharpie (it will hold up to the refrigeration without smudging or smearing) with the date so you know. You might want to keep this list handy so you know how long to keep these items.
Last thoughts on this and then you can go cure the OCS in your fridge: unless you have a huge family or you’re an overly zealous condiment using family, it’s probably best to stick with supermarket sized condiments as opposed to the jumbo sized stuff that they sell in those warehouse stores. Bigger isn’t always better.
Have fun tossing!
In life, it’s the little things that count. Not the great big momentous occasions, but the daily moments that all strung together, make up your own personal circle of life. We cannot measure the quality of our lives by the big events like birthday celebrations, weddings, baptisms and graduations. It’s the day-to-day stuff that makes up your life.
This is also true with eating. It’s not just the big meal occasions—dinner out, Thanksgiving, birthday cake and such. Becoming a healthy eater has everything to do with daily decision making over what will go in your mouth, rather than worrying about a special occasion (I say, splurge and enjoy it! The next day, do penance and throw in a little extra exercise and pare a few calories off your daily intake for the next few days.)
But it’s those daily decisions that count; to choose not to drive thru and wait an extra 15 minutes to get home to real food. It’s choosing fruit over donuts; water over soda and not to have that bowl of ice cream watching TV. Those are the little decisions that matter much more so than eating an extra piece of pie at Thanksgiving. Yeah, overindulging is hard on your body and we talk about being “Thanksgiving full” as the ultimate test of fullness, but the daily awareness of what you put in your body is what the definitive cause and effect of how your body looks, feels and operates.
Sometimes it’s easy (like the above example of fruit over donuts). Other times, it’s harder to know what to do. Here are some easy swaps to help you to save calories, your health and your sanity, too, so you know that what you’re doing will make a difference!
Instead of a blueberry muffin (which, let’s be honest, is really a cupcake with blueberries in it!) have a cup of Greek yogurt with 1/2 a cup of blueberries stirred in. Save yourself 249 calories (and some considerable carbs!).
Instead of a 2 slices of whole wheat bread, have 1 Orowheat Sandwich Round (whole wheat also), saving yourself 140 calories!
Instead of 1 cup of white rice, have 1/2 cup of brown rice mixed with chopped steamed broccoli. You’ve just saved yourself nearly 100 calories (and ratcheted up the fiber count, too!).
Instead of a pork chop, go for an equal serving of pork tenderloin and save yourself 50 calories (plus a lot of fat grams!).
It’s not that difficult to make a big difference a little bit at a time. Awareness counts as much as calories do. Keep that in mind as you hit the grocery store this week!
Our Dinner Answers menu planner allows you to completely personalize your grocery list and do your grocery shopping from your PHONE! Check it out!
One of my favorite pastimes is cooking with my children. Do you have kids? If you do, I want to heavily recommend that you teach them the joys of the kitchen while they’re still young and look up at you like a superhero that has all the answers. Teaching your children how to cook is more than a rite of passage; it’s just plain fun. To me, the kitchen is like a magical land that can create a special type of community and intimacy with the simple act of making a meal.
There are some little things you should look out for when you start to integrate your children into the cooking world: the basic do’s and don’ts.
DO assign simple tasks. When starting out, show them how to wash veggies, how to stir sauces to not let the sides burn, how to scramble eggs, etc.
DON’T let your child use a knife and cutting board without supervision and being taught proper technique.
DO give them a bit more responsibility as they show they understand. Show them basic vegetable cutting, but once you pass that knife from your hand to theirs, watch them like a hawk. (younger ones can use pumpkin carving knives safely, so save yours!)
DON’T let your child remove anything from the oven. But explain how it’s done as you do it; this way, when it’s time, they’ll be ready.
DO explain how when you’re using a pot or pan that you need to turn the handle to the side so it’s not sticking out so no one can run into it or accidentally knock it over.
DON’T allow them to handle meat until they’ve had a couple seasoned years under your training, but explain the safety issues and demonstrate thorough hand washing after you touch it.
ALWAYS let them sneak tastes of their labor in the kitchen. One of my favorite things about cooking is that I get to taste along the way, and I can guarantee that it’ll be a favorite among your children as well.
Well folks, there you have it! Show your children what a kitchen is and how to use it. My daughter is a college graduate now and she tells me all the time how surprised she is that hardly anyone her age knows how to cook. Regardless, your children are going to love learning this new skill! For them, it’s like finally getting to know the secret behind a magic trick. Have FUN!!
There is a true intimidation factor in cooking for some people—I get the emails from them so I know this is true. For me, having grown up in a home with parents who cooked, rarely eating out, I learned how to navigate my way in a kitchen early on.
It was (being honest here) a bit of surprise when I first started my website back in 2001 to learn that not everyone knew how to chop an onion. The cooking terms that I learned before I got my first Girl Scout badge (The Cooking badge naturally—I’ve got it taped to my bookcase, LOL!), have fallen by the wayside. Terms like dice, mince and julienne have turned into much simpler terms like chop, chop fine and chop into matchstick-sized pieces. But who cares, right? The deal is to get the cooking DONE, not worry about semantics.
Check out this testimonial we received from Heather:
Okay, I finally decided to try your system.
Well, first I get the menu – looks good, but I’m worried, because spaghetti and sauce is about the most I do. Then I see the grocery list – there are things on there that I’ve never ever bought before!
I go to the grocery store with your list in hand. For a family of 6 my average grocery bill was always over $120/week. With Leanne’s list – I spent $67.52.
Now, I decide to prepare the meal. First thing that I discover, a fancy sounding name doesn’t mean hours of cooking. Second thing, it really only takes about 1/2 hour to cook the whole thing! Finally, I find out that my kids eat things that don’t include mounds of sugar.
Thank you for helping me save money and my family’s health!!
Me again—the trick is, as Heather wrote, was not to be intimidated! She took a tool (the menu) and dove in and did the work. She discovered that doing so saved her a ton of money, her sanity, and made her feel like a hero in her own home! Isn’t that what we all want?
Don’t be intimidated by cooking! I’ve said in a million times, this is not brain surgery and it is something everyone can do, I promise! If you need help, I’ve got it for you in every way imaginable from free daily newsletters, to recipes and tips, grocery lists, freezer cooking, you name it. Don’t lose hope and think you can’t do this thing called cooking. YES, you can!!
Ready to try Dinner Answers like Heather did? We’ve got it right here for you.