Roanna Martin

"make [food] simple and let things taste of what they are." {Curnonsky}


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Delicata Squash: A Template

Who wants to know what I ate for dinner tonight? Well, I didn’t really think anyone would… but Emily encouraged me to blog about this, so here goes:

For $2 at the Morgantown Farmers’ Market on Sunday, I picked up a wee little gem: a Delicata Squash.

Photo Courtesy of Serious Eats

They are typically about 5 or 6 inches long, and 2 or 3 inches in diameter, and make a perfect meal for two people.

I first discovered the beauty of cooking with these fall vegetables last year, at which point I called them: “My New Favorite Convenience Food” on my previous blog. 

Chop the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.

Place both halves cut side down in a container with a little bit of water. Then either microwave the squash for about 4 or five minutes, or bake for about 15 minutes.

Then, turn the squash over so you have little “canoes”. Fill with items such as cooked beans, tomato chunks, cooked rice, cooked ground beef, sauteed onions, and whatever spices you please. This is a great way to use leftover chili, or pieces of chicken, or anything that’s in your fridge, really! Top with a sprinkle of reduced fat cheese.

Return to the microwave for five minutes or until contents are thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.

For those of you who like measurements and ingredients, here is what went into mine tonight.

Combine in bowl:

1 cup cooked kidney beans

1/2 c shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese (reserving a small amount to sprinkle on top)

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place mixture in partially cooked squash, and return to oven or microwave to finish cooking.

When you pull it out, top each half with 1/4 cup salsa.

 

 

When prepared this way, each squash half contains:

252 calories

6.4 g fat

34.8 g carbohydrates

10.2 g fiber

14.9 g protein

66.4% RDA of Vitamin A

(Nutrient Analysis: Recipes.Sparkpeople.com)

Winter squash is a more-than-excellent source of vitamin A, which is known to help promote and maintain healthy skin, teeth, connective tissues, and vision. So, rather than pay money to pop a pill, why not try some real food that’s super high in vitamins and minerals?

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Healthy Snacks

First off, my apologies to Emily  since this post is very similar to hers. But I figured that not everyone who reads my blog is also reading hers, although I highly recommend you take time to read her blog as well!

Today over lunchtime we got to set up shop in the dining hall, complete with a white table cloth.

We were surrounded by a variety of examples of snacks- some healthy, and some NOT so healthy. 

Armed with a stack of beautiful brochures that Emily designed, and a “MyPlate” wheel for quickly calculating calorie needs and servings from each food group, we set up to educate the student population about healthy snacking.

The station generated some interesting conversations, and it was fun to make ourselves available to anyone who had an interest in stopping by. 

Here are a few examples of the snacks that we had:

Celery with Peanut Butter

 

and an apple…

 

and a not so healthy snack of nachos and nacho cheese…

Although, it wouldn’t be hard to turn those unhealthy chips and cheese into a healthy snack, by swapping in whole grain tortilla chips, and a 1/4 cup salsa instead of the cheese!

Happy Snacking!

 


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Salsa Making

I spent the labor day weekend with my family, and came home to West Virginia with about 3 dozen pints of salsa.

Delicious. Fresh. Summer in a jar.

My mom and one of my best friends and I spent about 4 hours picking, chopping, stirring, mixing, cooking and canning on Saturday.

Here are the ingredients for a tested recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

  • 7 quarts peeled, cored, chopped paste tomatoes
  • 4 cups seeded, chopped long green chiles
  • 5 cups chopped onion
  • ½ cup seeded, finely chopped jalapeño peppers
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups bottled lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons oregano leaves (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (optional)

We started by gathering the necessary produce- including picking peppers straight off the plant.

We cleaned the onions outside, on a wooden board placed right over the compost bin.

The next step was to chop everything. Be sure to wear plastic gloves when chopping hot peppers- capsaicin is a potent compound!

After removing the skins from the tomatoes by submerging them in boiling water for about twenty seconds and then dropping them into ice water, we removed the pulp and seeds with our fingers and cut the tomatoes into chunks.

Chopping peppers by hand keeps a slightly chunkier texture, although we used the food processor for onions to minimize the tear-inducing effects of this powerful vegetable.

For a bit of background on why cutting onions makes you cry, onions and other members of the allium family, are odorless until they are cut or bruised. Slicing open an onion causes an enzymatic reaction that releases a distinctive-smelling sulfur compound. Pyruvic acid is also formed, contributing to the pungent odor of an onion and irritates tear ducts.

Combine ingredients in a large pot, except cumin, oregano and cilantro, and heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils. Then reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add in the spices, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Pack into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe, and put on canning lids, and process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath for altitudes less than 1000 ft.

For more detailed instructions on water bath canning, refer here.

Salsa is a great way to add flavor to many dishes- including omelets, rice, tacos, and baked potatoes.  Two tablespoons of this salsa is only about 9 calories, and 75 mg of sodium. Compare that to the 20 calories and 160 mg of sodium in 1 tablespoon of ketchup (or 40 calories and 320 mg sodium in 2 tablespoons if you eat that much), and you can see that salsa is a  great choice nutritionally.