Fall is in the air here in our little corner of Northwest Illinois. The nights are bringing crisp, cool temperatures and the days are comfortable, calm, and beautiful. The mosquitos are less plentiful (cheers all around!), the air conditioners are off, and I've been cooking lots of great autumn recipes that you'll find at the bottom of this email. I'm running with a recipe theme this week - cooked mashed pumpkin (you can substitute any winter squash of your choice). We've been eating lots of winter squash this week in our house! The orange color found on the inside of a pumpkin- the flesh - (also found in all other winter squash) is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. From the U of I: "Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta carotene performs many important functions in overall health. Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protect against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of aging." Check out the nutrition facts:
Pumpkin Nutrition Facts
(1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt)
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Potassium 564 mg
|Zinc 1 mg|
Selenium .50 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU
Vitamin E 3 mg
So, let's get cooking! Pick up your winter squash at market this Saturday, from 7:30-11 in the CVS parking lot on South Street in Freeport (or email me for a pickup). I'll have many unique heirloom varieties to choose from, as well as these other vegetables:
-Heirloom tomatoes - this is probably the last week for tomatoes
-Greens - kale, swiss chard. Maybe some turnip greens as well.
-Kohlrabi - green & purple heirloom varieties
-Cucumbers - nearly the end for these as well
-Melons - few different varieties of canteloupe
-Radishes- French Breakfast variety
-Winter squash - many unique heirloom varieties, all delicious. Winter squash will keep for months - so after you've used it for a front porch decoration, you can cook it!
-Gourds - many varieties
-Corn shocks - decorative corn stalk bundles for your porch or yard
-Broom corn shocks
Hope to see you there!
Cooking winter squash / pumpkin:
All of the following recipes call for cooked, mashed pumpkin. This is very easy to do, and you can make a big batch at once (it freezes great!). To start, get a sharp knife and cut the squash in half. Then scoop out the seed cavity. When it's empty, cut it again so that you have at least 4 pieces (the more pieces you cut it into, the quicker it will cook). Next, place the squash skin-side down on to a rimmed cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-60 minutes (cooking times will vary depending upon the variety of squash as well as the size of the pieces). Keep an eye on it to avoid burning. It's ready when easily pierced with a fork. To mash: Allow squash to cool, then remove the skin (you can just scrape the flesh off and into a large bowl). Using clean hands (this is the easiest way), mash & squeeze the squash until it's smooth - it will only take a couple of minutes. Now you can enjoy the following recipes!
This is a favorite in our family and you can find the recipe and pictures on my blog here:
I cooked this a few days ago, and it's delicious!
- 1 pound pork sausage, cooked
- 1 12-ounce bottle dark beer
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper
- 2 cups cooked mashed pumpkin or other winter squash
- 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt)
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 medium white onions, diced
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bunch kale or swiss chard, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
Cook sausage, brown onions & peppers and garlic in canola oil. Add pumpkin, beer, tomatoes, and kale. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Add seasonings - chili powder and salt to taste. To serve, pour into a bowl and stir in a good spoonful our sour cream or plain yogurt.
Chili Cheese Fries
I used some leftover Pumpkin Chili (recipe above) yesterday and turned it into healthy pumpkin chili cheese fries. Yes, this treat can be made in a healthy way!
Recipe can be found on my blog:
Baked Winter Squash - simple is best!
The way I grew up eating winter squash - simple to prepare and eat.
-1 small winter squash, such as acorn, butternut, delicata, or sweet dumpling
-1 tablespoon butter
-1 tablespoon brown sugar
Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seed cavity and place on a baking sheet, skin side down. Into empty seed cavity, place 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar. Repeat for other half. Bake at 350 for 30-60 minutes (depending on size of squash). To eat, place on a plate and dig in with a spoon!