Archive for September, 2012

Fall Finally! Enjoy Your Fall Squash and Gourds

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Now that summer is coming to a close, it’s time to enjoy one of the most popular fruits that fall has to offer: squash and gourds. While in cooking squash and gourds are considered vegetables, botanically speaking squash and gourds are fruit.

Summer squashes like zucchini and yellow crookneck are harvested during the growing season, are eaten almost immediately and require very little cooking time.

Winter squashes like butternut, acorn, spaghetti and pumpkin are harvested at the end of the summer, can be stored in a cool, dry place for eating later and generally require longer cooking times.

Gourds are from the same family as squashes.

When purchasing these fruits, look for squash and gourds that are fairly heavy and firm. Choose squash that have bright, glossy exteriors and avoid squash that have nicks, bruises or soft spots.

Here are a few yummy squash recipes you may want to try this fall.

Butternut Squash Soup

6 tablespoons chopped onion
4 tablespoons margarine
6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
3 cups water
4 cubes chicken bouillon
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
2 (8 ounces) cream cheese

In a large saucepan, sauté onions in margarine until tender. Add squash, water, bouillon, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil. Cook for 20 minutes, or until squash is tender.
Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or a food processor in batches until smooth. Return to saucepan and heat through. Do not allow to boil.

Candied Acorn Squash

1 medium acorn squash (about 1 ¼ pounds)
¼ cup maple syrup or 3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
½ teaspoon finely shredded orange peel (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon or ground nutmeg

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds. Arrange the squash halves, cut side down, in a 2-quart baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Turn the squash halves cut side up.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together maple syrup, butter, orange peel (if desired), and cinnamon. Spoon syrup mixture into centers of squash halves. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until squash is tender.

Tips for Packing Nutritious School Lunches

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Today’s parents constantly worry that their children aren’t getting the right foods in their lunch. That’s why the right lunch begins well before noon. The right lunch begins at the grocery store and carries over in every meal they eat. Here we breakdown the grocery store for you section by section.

Supermarkets are filled with nutritious choices nowadays and by enlisting the help of your child when shopping for their lunch foods, he or she can learn how to make the best choices as they grow up and create meals of their own.

Be sure to check out the following areas of your supermarket and your child’s lunch will not only be filled with great tasting foods, but it will also create a healthy lunch.

• The Produce Section: The produce section is always a good place to start when it comes to a healthy lunch. Choosing fruits and vegetables that your child enjoys and even some they may have never tried is a great idea and is always a good place to find those important vitamins and minerals that every child needs.

• The Drink Aisle: While many children would love to enjoy a sugary soft drink with their lunch, a better option is a 100 percent juice instead. Be a label reader and avoid juices with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and artificial flavors.

• The Dairy Section: The dairy section is also an area where you can find some great foods. Try low-fat dairy options, like cottage cheese, string cheese and yogurt.

• The Snack Food Aisle: Many parents would avoid this aisle completely, but there are still some great lunch items that can be found in the snack food aisle. Be on the lookout for baked and not fried snacks, avoid trans-fats, choose whole-wheat over non-whole grain snacks, grab some all natural granola bars that offer whole grains, nuts and pieces of fruit all in one snack.

Just by paying some attention to the labels and what is going into your child’s lunch each day, your child will have the nutrition and energy necessary to get through his or her day, the healthy way.

Additional Good Grocery Shopping Tips

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish are usually located. Avoid the center aisles where junk foods lurk.

Choose “real” foods, such as 100% fruit juice or 100% whole-grain items with as little processing and as few additives as possible.
Stay clear of foods with cartoons on the label that are targeted to children. If you don’t want your kids eating junk foods, don’t have them in the house.

Avoiding foods that contain more than five ingredients, artificial ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Prepare Yourself for Cold and Flu Season: Dos and Don’ts

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Now that the kids are back in school and the weather is starting to change, it’s time to start worrying about the cold and flu season. By keeping the following dos and don’ts into consideration you can better protect your family and yourself.

Do use hand sanitizer – Carry a pocket-sized hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it generously whenever you are in public places. Germs are everywhere and on everything and by using hand sanitizer you are protecting yourself from bringing home these flu viruses.

Do wash your hands frequently – It may seem like the simplest thing to do, but be sure that you are washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap, and for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Teachers are now telling students to sing the ABC’s or Happy Birthday to themselves while they are washing their hands to be sure you are washing for a full 15 to 20 seconds.

Do sneeze into the crook of your elbow – By sneezing into your elbow, you are avoiding transmitting flu viruses to your hands and will keep you from passing the virus to others. It may seem socially awkward at first, but soon you will see more and more people doing this when they sneeze.

Don’t shake hands – To keep from transmitting germs, avoid shaking hands with people when you greet them. Try a head nod, waving or smiling instead to greet someone. If you can’t avoid shaking someone’s hand, then be sure to use your hand sanitizer following the hand shake.

Don’t use someone else’s phone or computer mouse – Phones and computers harbor some pretty heinous germs for hours. Avoid sharing someone else’s phone or computer mouse if at all possible. If you do have to use someone else’s phone or computer wipe it down with an alcohol swab prior to using it.

Don’t change a diaper without washing your hands immediately afterwards – This should be a given at all times and not just during the flu season. Stool harbors gastrointestinal bugs that cause diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach. It may also contain H1N1, so anyone changing a diaper needs to be sure that they are washing their hands (for 15 to 20 seconds) following the changing.

Simply Spinach

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Ever since we saw Popeye take out that can of spinach to help make himself super strong, we have known about the nutritional benefits of spinach. But there are plenty of other benefits of spinach that maybe even Popeye was not aware of.

Leafy, green vegetables, like spinach, provide more nutrients than any other food. Researchers have found at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that have been known to act as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents, combating specific cancers like ovarian and prostate cancer.

The vitamin K in spinach provides 200% of the daily value in fresh spinach and nearly 1000% of the daily value in boiled spinach.

Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, folate and magnesium.

Cooked spinach is a great source of iron, and is totally fat free.

Spinach has been known to protect against osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis and many other conditions.

So maybe Popeye was really onto something …