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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

butternut squash pasta bake3

Oh, butternut squash – how I love you. As a kid I never was served butternut squash. While I became more adventurous the older I got, something about squash didn’t appeal to me (probably the texture – I hate mushy food). After hearing my dietetic friends rave about butternut squash this and butternut squash that, I figured I had to break down and give it a chance. How had I been missing out on this heavenly food for so long?!? I was in love instantly. Then I added sage to it and I was in heaven. Ever since I have been making squash dishes a regular occurrence in our house. Since I don’t like mushy foods, I usually use the squash as a sauce or a component of the meal, but don’t often eat it plain. Since I’ve fallen in love with squash, our garden is always full of winter squash and sage plants.

This dish is a simple way to throw together a delicious casserole. Using squash as the sauce cuts out the sodium and sugar often added to other pasta sauces. You don’t need to bake it in the oven unless you choose to put the cheese on to (and who doesn’t love cheese, right?).

butternut squash pasta bake2

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried whole grain pasta (8 ounces), prepare
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups cooked butternut squash*, cubed
  • Milk (amount needed will vary)
  • 1/8 cup dried sage or 1/4 cup fresh sage, diced
  • 1 package frozen spinach (10 ounces), thawed
  • 1/4 cup pepitas or other seeds
  • 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Saute the onion in olive oil. Add the vinegar and mix well. Continue to cook down to desired consistency. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, place all of the squash. Pulse/process until desired consistency. Add milk to think the mixture if needed.
  4. Add the sage and pulse to mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the spinach and pulse until combined. Add the onions and pulse until combined.
  6. Pour the sauce mixture over the pasta and mix well. Transfer to a the prepared dish.
  7. Top the dish with seeds and then shredded cheese.
  8. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

*Tip – preparing winter squash can be a pain. To save time, I dedicate 1 weekend day in the fall to prepare cups of squash. After they are cooked, I portion them into quart freezer bags, so they are ready to go when I need them. I usually portion 1/2 of the squash cubed and 1/2 of the squash already pureed or mashed up.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2014 in Nutrition

 

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Sunday Food Prep

sunday food prep

Sundays are busy days at our house. J  cleans (could I be any luckier?!) while I cook up a storm in the kitchen. During rotations I just don’t have time to cook during the week. And if I do have time, I really don’t want to slave away in the kitchen after a 10-12 hour day. Here is an example of what we eat for the week:

Back Left – Salads

  • Fresh lettuce washed and chopped, ready to eat
  • Celery sticks, washed and trimmed
  • Cucumbers and Tomatoes, washed and diced, ready for salads

Front Left – snacks

Center – Breakfast and Lunch

  • Roasted mixed vegetables with wheat pasta and balsamic vinegar. Roasted veggies are so easy – just throw them in a large pan, toss with olive oil and spices, and roast at 425F for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning.
  • Egg Bakes – the easiest way to get a vegetable serving in before 7am

Back Right – Dinner

  • Crock pot chili, half for this week and for the freezer for a week when I don’t want to cook 😉

Front Right – Dessert

  • Black bean brownies, because pregnant women love chocolate and desserts…and since I’m a dietitian I will feel less guilty if I know they are full of nutritious black beans.

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Life, Nutrition

 

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Black Bean and Corn Soup

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During the summer CSA we got a TON of sweet corn. I  mean a ton – 12 ears per week. That is way too much for 2 people to safely eat. My routine was to roast all 12 ears in the oven the night we got them. I would save the number of ears I thought we could eat in the week and then remove the corn from the others. By the end of the summer, despite eating corn like it was going out of style, we still ended up with 3 gallon freezer bags filled with corn.

When fall rolled around I decided it was time to start making a dent in the corn. Over the summer we also inherited a few gallons of tomatoes from my dad’s farm and a decent amount of hot peppers from our own garden (probably the only fruitful plants in our garden). What better to make with all of these items in the fall than soup! Pair that with a bag of dry black beans and you have a simple, nutritious, and filling meal.

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While you can use canned black beans (be sure to drain and rinse!), I chose to use dry beans since that is what I had on hand. It is best to prepare these separate and in advance. If you don’t, you run the risk of excessive gas in your soup (and subsequently in you). You can remove the gas by soaking them in water the night before you use them. You can then add these soaked beans to your soup directly. If you do this, they may be firmer than you are used to, so another option is to cook them fully before adding them to the soup. If you like to cook them in the crock pot before using them, here is a great resource. What I did was soak an entire bag overnight, cook them in the crockpot (per the link above), and then used only what I needed for the recipe. The rest I put in a freezer bag and stored in the freezer until I needed them again.

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Crock-pot Black Bean and Corn Soup

Ingredients
These are all estimates, as I don’t measure when I am putting things into the crock-pot for soup

  • 2 cups of corn (I used sweet corn but regular would do as well)
  • 6 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups cooked/canned black beans
  • 1/4 cup diced hot pepper (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Additional options – ground beef/turkey, shredded chicken, shredded zucchini, diced green peppers

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker
  2. Add water to desired consistency (soupy vs stewy)
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
 
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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Nutrition

 

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