The best Delicata Squash recipe

Delicata Squash

If you’ve never seen a delicata squash before, you are in for a treat! this is one of my favorite squashes, and I’m a big squash fan.

These beauties are easy to grow just like any other squash. You plant them in the spring by mounding up some soil and inserting 5 seeds in the top. Keep it well watered through the season and in the fall they are ready to harvest!

Nutritionally they only contain 40 calories, are high in fiber and contain a decent amount of Vitamin A and C. They even have a little protein.

Delicata squash is very sweet and sometimes called the sweet potato squash. For me, this is a great way to curb my sweet tooth with something more nutritious than cookies, cake or candy.

Delicata squash does not store for long. You must eat it sooner than most winter squash because their skins are thin and tender. You actually eat the skin.

Here is a quick and easy recipe a friend of mine shared with me that even one of my squash haters  enjoyed.

Wash and dry squash (since you will eat the skin)
Cut in half across the lines of the squash and remove seeds
Slice the squash into 1/2 inch coins (with holes in the center)
Rub both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt
Place coins on a roasting pan, not touching each other
Sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese
Roast at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until they are tender

Yummm…….I’m getting hungry just writing this!

Enjoy!!!!!

Don’t throw out your beet greens!

Beet Greens

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I usually do when I buy a vegetable topped with greens is cut them off and toss them out. As researchers began to find that vegetable greens were loaded with nutrients, I began to look at them differently. I’m not a fan of many greens. I find them bitter to eat fresh and difficult to cook correctly. When I looked at beet greens, they looked like the last thing I’d want to eat………but I was wrong!

Beets are high in natural sugar which means their greens are also sweet. Early in the growing season, beet greens are small, bright green and very tender. If you are a fan of fresh spinach, you could appreciate fresh young beet greens in your salad.

As the season gets later and beet greens get older, they are not as tender and change to a darker green to maroon color. They also have a number of small holes from insect nibbles. That should tell you how good they taste! Mother Nature’s creatures usually like to eat the same things that taste good to us. Beet greens at this stage are still good in salads for those who enjoy greens. Because of the thicker texture, I prefer to steam them and add onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil.

I also found beet greens are great for juicing. You don’t have to add as much fruit to sweeten your juice because beet greens are so naturally sweet. It’s the only green drink I’ve been able to get my family to try. Just tear out the center stem from each leaf, wad the leaves together and pop them through the juicer.

Beet greens are loaded with nutrients like most greens. When compared to raw kale, beet greens contain good levels of Vitamin A, K, and B6, Thiamin and Riboflavin. The most surprising find is how much protein they both contain! That’s impressive for a vegetable. Beet greens also contain Vitamin C and E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus and Zinc.

So next time you buy beets, don’t throw out your greens. Eat them first! They contain more nutrition and they are sweet and tasty too!

Mushrooms….the meat of the healthy plants

Mushrooms

A friend gave me some unbelievably large chanterelle mushrooms and everyone I shared them with were ecstatic to have this fantastic delicacy.  There are over 100,000 types of mushrooms in the world and only 1841 of them are actually considered edible. Historically, and still today, there are some tribes that use poisonous mushrooms in certain doses as medicine, hallucinogens, as an aphrodisiac or even for killing. For this reason, picking wild mushrooms is best left to those who are well trained.

Today, tasty edible mushrooms are used in many dishes as a seasoning. They used to be considered a “meat” because of their texture, the high amount of protein ( 5 grams per cup!) and nutrients that are similar to meat products. Mushrooms contain a high amount antioxidants that stay intact even after being cooked. They are also low in salt, fat and calories. Some of the vitamins and mineral you’ll find in mushrooms include Vitamin C, D and multiple Bs, Folate, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium. You can see why mushrooms are great if you are vegetarian!

One of the biggest health claims of mushrooms is the boosting of the immune system. Many antibiotics are actually made from varieties of mushrooms. It’s no wonder mushrooms are considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. Other health claims include prevention of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Mushrooms grow wild on hummus ground which is usually found in moist dark forests. Today farming mushrooms is usually done on compost or on shelves of rotting wood. You can even buy kits to your grow your own common mushrooms at home.

Mushrooms stay freshest when eating within 3 days. Store them in a paper bag in a dark, cool place. To prepare for cooking, trim off the bottom of the stem and wipe off the mushroom with a dry cloth or paper towel to remove dirt. You don’t want to use water to clean them or they don’t cook as well. Sauté your mushrooms in either butter or olive oil. Use a larger pan that gives plenty of space and sauté just until they release their own moisture. Use them to spice up steaks, hamburgers, sauces or top off your  pasta with a white sauce loaded with these cooked gems. Wild mushroom soup is also wonderful! There are a number of recipes online.

My chanterelles are quickly being used up but I must say, it’s revitalized my interest in making mushrooms a larger part of my diet. They are tasty and healthy to boot!