Make This: Delicata Squash Rings

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While I love the flavor and creamy texture of starchy winter squash (not to mention the nutrition punch in the form of fiber and vitamin A), it feels like such a chore to hack at that tough outer skin to get to the good stuff. 

Until I discovered Delicata squash, the squash that requires NO PEELING! The skin is super thin and very edible. 

You'll recognize it as the oblong light yellow squash with green or dark yellow stripes running longways. Wash it well, then cut it in half, and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. Slice it into half-inch thick rings, and it's ready to bake.

Set the rings on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and season with a sprinkle of sea salt, and take things up a notch with one or more seasonings, like cinnamon, garlic powder or onion powder. You can add a small swizzle of olive oil if you like to help the seasoning stick, but by putting the rings on parchment they won't stick, and by giving plenty of space on the pan, they'll brown nicely. Pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes and then flip them. If you’re feeling super fancy, swizzle a scant teaspoon of pure maple syrup at the halfway point, but again, that's optional. Roast for another 15 or so minutes (depending on their thickness). 

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For a quick and balanced weeknight meal, serve them as the starchy component of your meal: They're great over wilted kale or collards, or with roasted green beans or Brussels sprouts. Add your protein, or some rinsed and drained canned beans and a handful of raw pumpkin seeds, and you're set. Leftover squash rings (if you have any!) make tomorrow's lunch salad really special, too, or enjoy them with yogurt for breakfast or a snack.

Light + Refreshing Cucumber Salad

Have I mentioned in the last 10 minutes that I love summer? Because I do--for far too many reasons than I have time to list here. One of the best parts of summer is the amazing variety of produce that grows locally in and around my fine home state of Maryland. Last week, we got about a zillion cucumbers in our CSA share from One Straw Farm, providing the perfect opportunity to whip up my favorite, super-fast summer side. It's less a recipe than a concoction; somewhere between a light pickle and a salad, you can enjoy this as a condiment on a sandwich or salad, or as a side dish at your next barbecue:

Refreshing Cucumber Salad

  • Cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds or half moons
  • Sweet onion, thinly sliced into half moons
  • Fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • Rice vinegar (plain, not "seasoned," which contains added sugar)
  • Coarse salt + pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients except for the salt + pepper in a flat-bottomed dish so everything can marinate well. Allow to sit at least 4 hours or overnight. Add salt + pepper to taste  Make as much or as little as you like, adding more or less of any ingredient to your preference. The longer it sits in the fridge, the more delicious this gets!

Need support in shopping and eating seasonally? Please get in touch!

 

Local produce doesn't have to be difficult

There's a misconception that in order to eat nutritious, locally grown food, we have to...

A. Spend a fortune.

B. Go out of our way to shop for it.

Those statements used to be true, but they aren't any longer. As much as I love shopping at the farmers' market, it's not always practical. Now grocery stores of all sizes, from behemoths like Costco to mom-and-pop shops are hearing our requests for better quality, more nutritious food, and they're answering by stocking more of it. Take a trip to a pretty standard grocery store like Giant and you'll find plenty of excellent options, including innovative growers like Bright Farms. Bright Farms is growing quality produce in greenhouses that lessen environmental impact while preserving flavor and nutrition. They're fresh, grown just down the road in Culpeper, VA, and the cost is beyond reasonable.

In a time when it feels like our voices don't carry a lot of weight, our dollars have carried a lot of weight with grocers! Our requests are being heard, and the spread of quality, locally grown produce in our grocery stores is inevitable. 

 

Need support in navigating your local grocery store and planning menus? Let's talk!

Prep this easy meal: Whole grain + edamame salad with dill & mint

I want to eat healthy, but I am busy and don't want to spend my life in the kitchen, so preparing one dish and getting several meals out of it is a huge win. Enter big beautiful whole grain salads, loaded with fresh herbs for big flavor, lots of vegetables and tasty vegetarian protein so they can last for a few days in the fridge! 

The recipe I'm about to share is a big hit among many of my clients (although a caveat: If you dislike dill, don't make this!). It comes together quickly, and is a delicious, complete meal on it's own, or bolstered by additional sources of protein or vegetables. Let me know if you give this one a try...

Quinoa & Edamame Salad

Serves 4 as a main course or more as a side

  • 1 cup dried quinoa or other whole grain (I used 1/2 cup of truRoots Ancient Grain Medley which is a very voluminous mix of quinoa, millet and buckwheat)
  • 12-16 oz package of frozen edamame WITHOUT shells, thawed (either by microwaving or by sitting on the counter for an hour or longer)
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped or torn
  • A big handful of fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions, greens and whites, chopped
  • 1 large lemon or 2 small, juiced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the grain according to the package in water or stock, or for SUPER FLAVORFUL GRAINS, toast the grains:  Simply add the grains to a dry pan over med high heat, and gently shake the pan to keep the grains from burning. Keep shaking the pan for 2-3 minutes, and the grains will emit a toasty warm smell when they’re done. The color may be a shade or two darker, but not browned. Then cook the grains according to package.

Toss all ingredients together with cooked grains and let sit minimum 4 hours in the fridge. This salad will become more flavorful as it sits. I'm not sure where I found the original recipe that I adapted into this version, but please pipe in if you recognize it!

Need support in coming up with easy + delicious recipes to support your health and fitness goals? Get in touch!