Hope your day is filled with gratitude, family, friends and good food. And if you have room for one more eye-pleasing dish in your menu, I suggest you try this great cranberry sauce handed down to me by my husband’s grandmother. Come and cook with us!
Why, oh why, am I the only one in this house that loves squash. And believe me, I have tried to prepare it in every which way but still to no avail. What sounds like a no-brainer to me in the department of delicious foods turns out to be a non-starter for the rest of the family. No reason to give in yet, though, at least not with the little ones. Research states that children need repeat exposure to new food, as often as twenty times, before they embrace it. We are at fifty and counting and my efforts are still going strong. Either way, if you love squash, read on; and if not, do so anyway as it may lead you to the enlightened path of squash appreciation – one try at a time. Come and cook with us!
The reason I love winter squash is that it doesn’t just look beautiful as a fall decoration, but it is also versatile, easy to prepare once you know how to handle it and, to top it off, it is a nutritional powerhouse. Winter squash comes in different varieties; the most well known are acorn, spaghetti and butternut. Acorn squash, for instance, is a fiber heavyweight with one cup of cooked acorn squash delivering a whopping 9 grams of fiber, along with plenty of potassium and some iron to top it off. Butternut squash, on the other hand, is an especially rich source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene which promotes healthy vision but is also the only variety among the squashes that has a substantial amount of beta-cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant phytochemical linked to lower risks of lung cancer as well as improved joint health. This is why we made butternut squash our introductory post almost three years ago.
My two favorite types of squash are delicata and kabocha. The latter tastes like chestnuts, and I use it along with sweet potatoes to make a wicked-good gluten-free bread – more on that soon. The former is wonderful for its taste, versatility and ease of use. The easiest way to prepare it is to wash it and cut it into 1/4-inch round slices – skin, seeds, strings and all. Lightly coat the slices with one teaspoon of olive or coconut oil before arranging the rounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to a hot oven – 400º F for 15-20 minutes – turning them once, and you have yourself some nutritious and tasty eye-candy to serve along with dinner. Try it once, and I promise that you will be hooked, too.
Your options don’t stop there. Another great way to use delicata squash is to cut it into chunks, this time without the seeds, roast it and toss it with blue cheese and sautéed pumpkin seeds. If you ask my friend Susanne, her favorite way to eat delicata is in a risotto. These are but a few of the many ways you can incorporate a little squash in your meals. As a testament to my dedication to this vegetable, I just realized that I wrote about delicata squash exactly one year ago. What can I say, true love lasts forever, or at least another year… Come and cook with us!
On Monday, typhoon Haiyan has left thousands dead in its wake barreling through the Philippines before landing in Vietnam and then Southern China. Apart from the billions in dollars worth of material damages, there a millions of people in dire need of basic aid.
How can you help? The State Department announced Monday that it is “cooperating with the Philippines Typhoon Disaster Relief Fund established by The mGive Foundation, a U.S. nonprofit organization” to collect donations for victims of the typhoon that struck the Philippines on Friday.
How to donate: mGive has a webpage here with details about aid organizations working in the Philippines and how to text $10 donations via cellphones or make donations online. Also, the State Department says, you can simply “text AID to 80108 to give a $10 donation to the mGive Philippines Typhoon Disaster Relief Fund.”
Other aid organizations are also collecting, of course. There’s a roundup with weblinks here. ReliefWeb, a digital service of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is pointing to Doctors Without Borders’ appeal for donations.
Photo Credit: AP
Ok, I’ll admit it. Chia seeds are not for everybody. Or at least not everyone dives head-over-heels into a chia-pudding or chia-filled drink as my son and I do. We love it, whether or not it’s good for you. It’s that gelling action of the seeds when soaked in liquid that appeals to us… while making the other half of the family run away screaming. Have you ever tried them? Well, it’s one of those things that you’ll either love or hate. But what are chia seeds exactly? Well, read on to find out. Come and cook with us!
Chia seeds have been slowly but surely making their way into the superfood segment of the natural food market with which claims that they are THE food that will lead us to eternal youth, super-human wisdom and provide the answer to all our nutrition prayers. But I don’t know if I’d take it that far. What I do know is that the chia plant comes from South America where the seeds are known for their nutritional bounty in terms of vegetarian Omega-3 fatty acids which are those good fats that we never seem to get enough of and which, when turned by our bodies into DHA, help our brains grow. In fact, the type of Omega-3 that chia seeds contain are called Alpha-Linoleic Acids (ALA). which are an essential fatty acid – meaning that your body does not create it on its own. Other foods that contain ALA and which we can all eat more of are flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and some sea vegetables. But, chia seeds don’t only provide you with ALA; they are also rich in calcium, protein and fibre, making them a must for anybody who doesn’t eat dairy or fish.
What to do with those tiny little seeds? Well, for starters don’t spill them or else you’ll have a mess on your hand! The best way to integrate them into your daily meals is to sprinkle them onto your muesli, drop them into your smoothie, make a pudding or add them to your baked goods, adjusting for the fact that they absorb as much as ten times their weight in water over time. This makes them a great binder for a simple and raw fruit jam, such as strawberry, blueberry or raspberry, where you mix one cup of mashed-up fruit with one tablespoon of chia seeds and, if necessary, some water and a sweetener. Mix well together, transfer to a glass jar, cover it and let rest in the fridge for at least an hour or more. This gelling ability is also why I often put chia seeds in my gluten-free pancakes or muffins, as they act as a binder just like ground flax seeds do. But the all time favorite way to eat chia seeds is in a simple and delicious chia seed pudding.
Next time you’re in the store and see those little seeds calling out for you to take them home, follow suit and indulge yourself in a little South American gelling action! Come and cook with us!
One of the reasons I love my mom’s cooking is that she is the queen of mixing things up. Never will you see the same dish twice within a short period of time. In fact, I never hear even the slightest hint of indecision when it comes to picking her next meal. She just knows, always changing things up, cooking with the seasons and making the most of what she has around. It’s a skill and while I try to use my full repertoire of cook books, I sure could use a little help in keeping the menu new and interesting. Which is why I love the pile of recipe ideas on my desk. These words on paper scream out to me. They want a chance to turn into successful and well-liked dishes so that they can move from anonymity to prominence in my beloved recipe box. This is how I keep things interesting for the boys who are the ultimate hungry guinea-pigs, and luckily very rewarding in their role. Today I’d like to share a few of my latest discoveries which are taking up permanent residency in our menu of ideas. Hope you take them into consideration as well. Come and cook with us! Continue reading