Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pumpkin Season!!!

Is there a difference between "pumpkin" and "squash"?   

Nope. Not really. Shapes. Sizes.  Harvest time.

This is the best answer I could find:
"Squash are generally separated into three categories: summer squash, winter squash, and pumpkins. The difference between them all is really just based on how they are used. Summer squash are harvested when young and tender, while winter squash are harvested when hard and ripe. Pumpkins are really just winter squash, but have a distinctive pumpkin shape."* 
Not to mention there are SOOOO many varieties.  I found great lists (plus additional recipes) - All About Pumpkins Varieties and Seed to Supper
Pumpkin is so nutritious, full of fiber to fill you up and beta-carotene that amazing anti-oxidant to fight the free radicals in your body.  Here is the skinny on pumpkin:
1 cup of cooked pumpkin flesh contains**:
Calories 49                        Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams    Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg - healthy bones
Iron 1.4 mg - healthy blood
Magnesium 22 mg - bones, protein building, muscular & nerve functions
Potassium 564 mg - protein building, electrolyte & fluid balance, muscular contractions, nerve impulses
Zinc 1 mg  - hormones, enzyme making, protein building, immunity
Selenium .50 mg - enzymes for defending against oxidation
Vitamin C 12 mg - antioxidant, immunity, absorption of Vitamin E & iron
Niacin 1 mg - energy metabolism
Folate 21 mcg - new cell synthesis
Vitamin A 2650 IU - vision, immunity, antioxidant
Vitamin E 3 mg - antioxidant, immunity, nerve development

Share which squash is your favorite and great pumpkin carvings too on That’s Vegetarian’s Blogwhere you can find more pumpkin recipes too.

Pumpkin Pie Frozen Yogurt
32 oz low-fat plain yogurt, strained for about 5 hours
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
Strain the yogurt using a colander or strainer lined with cheese cloth, a paper towel or coffee filter for 5 hours or over night to remove most of the water to prevent ice crystal from forming in the yogurt.  You can substitute non-fat yogurt but the low-fat makes a better frozen yogurt.
Once that is complete, in a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Refrigerate the mixture until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for your ice cream/yogurt maker. Enjoy immediately or place in airtight container in freezer.  Remove about 2o minutes prior to serving time.
Prep Time: 15 min
Wait time: up to 8 hours
Freeze time: depends on your machine
Difficulty level: easy
Serves 4
PP: 6 (same pp value if you use non-fat yogurt)
Download recipe pdf by clicking this link:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gotta Love Them Apples!

Feel the soft supple skin.  Is it firm to the touch or does it have some give?  Smell the sweet fragrance.  Gently bring it up to your mouth, touch it to your lips, open wide and one healthy bite into the sweet flesh until the juice starts to slide down your hand.  Slowly pull it away.  Savor the taste as you slowly chew on the crisp flesh of that delicious Winesap apple.  The ever sensual apple.

There are over 7,500 apple varieties, so many more that I remember from my childhood.  Many exciting varietals are actually hybrids – Jonagold is a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious, Empire is a cross between the Red Delicious and McIntosh, and the Mitsu (Crispin) is a cross between Golden Delicious and Indu.  Who knew?
Apples can be a combination of sweet and tart and a spectrum from crisp to mealy.  Ever have a spicy apple?  Try a Winesap.

Apples are primarily a late summer/fall harvest fruit but do harvest into November especially for winter varieties like Mitsu, Fuji, Northern Spy, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith.   

When choosing the right apple, make sure there are no bruises.  The ones you get in a regular supermarket are the prettiest of the bunch often waxed to perfection.  Don't be afraid of the ones that are a little less shiny and raw looking.  Less tampering with mother nature.  I think the naked Winesaps pictured above are beautiful.  Also note that apples fall into the dirty dozen from the Environmental Working Group - which means, organic is best for apples. They retain and or use a lot of pesticides in the crop. 

General rule of thumb is to store in a dark cool place.   Ever use an apple in a paper bag to ripen other fruits and vegetables?  Well it is a great trick when you need them to ripen faster.  Apples give off ethylene gas which speeds the ripening.  So use caution leaving apples in your fruit crisper in the fridge.  Keep the apple in a plastic bag in the drawer.

Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C.

Which apples do you like to use for what purpose?  And if you really feel adventurous – Why?  Please comment on That’s Vegetarian’s Blog below!

Apple Crisp

1c        Quick Rolled Oats                1T     Flax seed meal 
1/3c     Brown sugar                          1t     Cinnamon
1/2c     Whole wheat flour                1/2t  Nutmeg (Or 1-1/2t Pumpkin pie spice)
1/4c     Butter or margarine (VEGAN)
8c        Apples (approx 8 medium apples), halved then sliced*
Juice from one lemon                    1T     White flour
1t         Cinnamon                            1/4c  Maple syrup

Spray  8” pie dish with vegetable oil.  Set aside.  (Or use ramekins or lined cupcake tins for individual servings)  Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine sliced apples, lemon juice, white flour, cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Pour into prepared pie dish.

In same bowl, mix dry ingredients of topping  - oats, brown sugar, flour, flax meal, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add cold butter (or margarine) and mush together with hands until crumbly.  Spread evenly over filling.

Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is soft when pierced with a fork.  If topping gets too dark, cover with foil.

* Substitute pears, plums, peaches, rhubarb, berries, etc or a combination of a few.

Prep Time: 20 min
Bake Time: 30 min
Serves 8