Living Lite

Katherine's Market Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger

October 15, 2012

"A 'comfort soup' with just the right spices to make it interesting; my 'go to' soup for the Fall!" says my neighbor, Constance Chatfield Taylor, president of Flying Colors Broadcasts. "Great to serve with h'oeuvres in simple demitasse cups or on Thanksgiving day."

Winter squashes, particularly butternut, are far superior to the summer squashes and zucchini in taste and nutrition because of their deeper color and higher carbohydrate and nutrient content. The most potent squashes are the more deeply colored varieties, especially pumpkin and butternut. Their color is provided by one of the most powerful nutrients: beta-carotene.

Characterized by a chubby bowling pin shape, a buff/beige color on the outside and a deep orange on the inside, the butternut is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant which converts to vitamin A in your body. Beta-carotene is critical for your immune system, your skin, your vision, bones, reproduction, and more. Studies show that people who eat foods high in beta-carotene and people with high blood levels of beta-carotene have a lower incidence of certain cancers. But you won’t get the same results with a beta-carotene supplement. Study after study has shown disappointing results with the supplements. So, only the food will do! But that’s a good thing for us squash lovers.

Apparently, each squash is a bustling little factory of nutrients and phytochemicals, the plant compounds with potent powers of healing. When acting synergistically in a food, these nutrients provide a more powerful health punch than the individual nutrients alone. Some of the most important nutrients in squash are antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and vitamin C, which are powerful substances believed to reduce inflammation, improve immune function and help prevent heart disease and cancers, among other benefits.

But there are other good reasons to eat butternut squash.

Butternut squash is also a great source of fiber (good for your gastrointestinal system), potassium (important for your heart and lowers blood pressure), vitamin C (a great antioxidant important for your skin, bones and healing), magnesium (important for muscle function, the heart, bones, blood clotting, and improves diabetes),manganese (important for metabolism and bone formation) and calcium (important for your heart and bones). And a big plus: it’s low in calories, only 82 calories in a cup (7 ounces) of baked squash cubes.

Today is the 9th of  "Katherine's Market Recipes," in The Georgetown Dish, all of which are designed to be delicious, easy, quick, family-friendly, nutritious (heart-healthy & diabetes-friendly), and to highlight produce found at our local Farmers Markets this week. At your Farmers Market, you'll find produce picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture and nutrition. You're also helping save the environment when you buy at your Farmers Market. Here's how...

For my "Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger," I recommend you buy the butternut squash, "candy"onion, and garlic at Georgetown's own Rose Park Farmers Market on Wednesday, the Glover Park - Burleith Farmers Market on Saturday, or Dupont Circle's Fresh Farm Market on Sunday. Incredibly, you can even buy locally grown ginger at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market or other Fresh Farm Market locations from Next Step Produce, Tree and Leaf Farm, The Farm at Sunnyside, Radix Farm and Mountain View Farm.  It's simple to preserve this fresh, tender and exquisite ginger so you can have it all year long. Learn how with  my step-by-step instructions for Preserving Ginger...

Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger
By Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D.
Author, “Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations” (LifeLine Press, 2011)
www.KatherineTallmadge.com

About 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 Small Butternut Squash
4 Cups Water
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion (about 1 medium)
1 Clove Garlic, crushed (2 cloves, if you like it spicy)
1 tsp Curry Powder (2 tsp, if you like it spicy)
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, about 2 inches, grated (2 Tbsp, if you like it spicy)
1 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Optional Garnish: A few fresh Cilantro sprigs per bowl

Cut Butternut Squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Place squash face down  in baking pan with 4 cups water. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until soft when pierced by a fork. (If you cannot slice a raw squash, as an alternative ... Bake the squash whole, then slice it in half when relatively cool - add the water to the soup pot later...)

While the squash is baking, prepare the aromatic vegetables and spices:  Place the oil in a large iron skillet or soup pot on medium-high.  Add onions and garlic and fry until golden. Stir in curry powder, ginger, and a pinch of salt and simmer on low for a few minutes.

When the squash has cooled to the touch, pour all the water in which the squash was cooked into the skillet and stir to scrape up the bits of aromatic vegetables and spices.  When squash has cooled, scoop out the butternut squash meat, leaving the skin, and stir into the mixture in the skillet. When room temperature or cool, puree the vegetable and spice mixture in a blender or food processor with the broth. Better yet, use my favorite immersible hand blender and puree right in the cooking pot: The Cuisinart Smart Stick... No mess, no fuss!

NOTE: Adjust seasonings by adding more salt, pepper or spices, if desired. Adjust consistency by adding more water or broth. Also, any similar winter squash will work well if Butternut is not available.

The entire pot of soup makes about  6 cups and is about 500 calories


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Katherine's Market Recipe: Italian Chunky Tomato Sauce

October 2, 2012

I can't believe tomato season is coming to an end. For tomato lovers such as I, here's a recipe to help you enjoy locally-grown, vine-ripe tomatoes year-round. I've even provided step-by-step pictorial instructions to make it as easy as possible.

Today is the 8th of  "Katherine's Market Recipes," in The Georgetown Dish, all of which are designed to be delicious, easy, quick, family-friendly, nutritious (heart-healthy & diabetes-friendly), and to highlight produce found at our local Farmers Markets this week. At your Farmers Market, you'll find produce picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture and nutrition. You're also helping save the environment when you buy at your Farmers Market. Here's how...

I recommend you buy the tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil at Georgetown's own Rose Park on Wednesday, Glover Park - Burleith Farmers Market on Saturday, or the  Dupont Circle's Fresh Farm Market on Sunday. 

Salsa Pic-Pac
(Chunky Tomato Sauce)
From "The Heart of Sicily" by  Anna Tasca Lanza, adapted and translated by Ann Harvey Yonkers

Ingredients:

1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped*
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Peel the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 10 seconds or so. Pull them out of the pot, wait until they are cool enough to handle, and slip the peels off.* Core with a sharp knife.

Chop red onion and garlic. Sautée in the olive oil. Add the tomatoes and cook. Add the basil, sugar, salt and pepper, to taste.

Partially cover the pan and continue to cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The time it takes the sauce to thicken will depend on how juicy the tomatoes are and how thick you prefer it.

* My Grandmother Tallmadge's tip: Peeling tomatoes easily is done by dropping them into boiling water for about 10 seconds. Pick them out of the boiling water (carefully with a fork or slotted spoon), wait for them to cool down enough to handle, and the peel slips off easily.

Katherine's simple step-by-step pictorial guide to "Italian Chunky Tomato Sauce"...

Ann Yonkers' tip: "If you dont have time to make tomato sauce now, wash and freeze the tomatoes whole in a ziplock bag. Take them out and the skin will slip right off."

NOTE: If possible, use 50 pounds of end-of-season, vine-ripe, locally-grown tomatoes, multiply the recipe by 25 and gather an assembly line of friends to help!

Charlie Yonkers, Richard Flax, Kathy Alley in the Yonkers' St Michaels, MD Kitchen (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Charlie Yonkers, Richard Flax, Kathy Alley in the Yonkers' St Michaels, MD Kitchen

(Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge)

Ann Yonkers, co-founder of Fresh Farm Markets, tested and adapted Anna Tasca Lanza's recipes, careful to preserve the authenticity of the Italian recipes in "The Heart of Sicily," visiting Sicily four times for the project.


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Most Olive Oil is Not as Healthy As You Think

September 12, 2012

The expensive designer olive oil in your kitchen cabinet is likely not as fresh, nutritious, or high in quality as you assume. Does that mean you won’t receive the expected health benefits when using olive oil? Probably not. But there are some things you should know about olive oil to improve your odds and get the best bang for your buck.

What makes olive oil healthy are invisible nutrients in the oil, which studies show are not in most of today's olive oil, no matter the price or country of origin.

“The health benefits of olive oil are ninety-nine percent related to the presence of the phenolic compounds, not the oil itself,” said Nasir Malik, Research Plant Physiologist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Malik is referring to the polyphenols in olive oil, nutrients also found in wine, tea, cocoa, and many fruits and vegetables, which have been discovered over the past decade to be the most important substances responsible for the bulk of olive oil’s health benefits, without which “you might as well use Canola oil,” said Malik. As, at least canola oil contains omega-3-fatty acids, not found in olive oil.

Studies confirm as days, weeks and months go by after harvest, the polyphenol content, nutrition and health benefits of olive oil diminish. 

Recent studies show polyphenols were surprisingly low in most commercially available olive oils, according to a recently published study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, co-authored by Malik.

They also don’t live up to international or U. S. Department of Agriculture quality standards, according to studies conducted by the UC Davis Olive Center.

But, it is possible to buy affordable olive oil which provides extraordinary health benefits and lives up to high quality standards. Here's everything I've discovered you need to know about olive oil (in today's Washington Post)...


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