Extension Unit News
Nutrition and Consumer Education
Butter Up to Butternut Squash
Butternut squash is one of the most popular winter squash varieties. It has a pale peach color on the outside but yields a yellow-orange flesh on the inside. It's flavor is reminiscent of a buttered sweet potato, and it's a versatile ingredient in many fall dishes.
Butternut squash ranks high on the nutritional list. One cup of squash has only 82 calories but 6 grams dietary fiber, 580 milligrams potassium, nearly 50% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C, and over 350% of the RDA of vitamin A. Store squash in a cool, dark place for 1-2 months, but refrigerate once cut.
To cut through the hard peel and flesh of winter squash, try microwaving it for 3-5 minutes first. It will soften just enough to be able to put a sharp knife through the middle, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. If using mashed squash, simply place the two halves flesh-down in a glass pan, and pour in ¼" of water. Either microwave for 9 to 12 minutes, or roast in a 400°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until easily pierced by a fork. If needing cubes, trim ¼" from top and bottom of the squash with a sharp knife. Peel with a vegetable peeler, cut in half, and then proceed to scoop out the seeds.
Butternut squash can be roasted with other root vegetables, pureed into a soup, or mashed into a pasta sauce. It's a fall favorite!
Ground Turkey and Butternut Squash Skillet
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 ½ Tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups cubed)
½ cup water
½ cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup chopped cilantro
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and pepper; cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and ground turkey. Use a wooden spoon to break apart meat and cook until meat is just browned. Drain off any fat. Add cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper; stir well. Add squash and water. Stir and cover with a lid. Continue to cook until squash softens. Remove lid; top with mozzarella and cilantro. Put lid back on until cheese melts. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 200 calories, 8 grams fat, 340 milligrams sodium, 13 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 20 grams protein.
Jenna Smith, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, Livingston/McLean/Woodford Unit.
Cooking Meals at Home!
According to Rutgers Cooperative Extension, over the past few decades, Americans have been eating out more and cooking at home less often. If you have lost the zeal for cooking meals at home, don't fret! Have fun in the kitchen again! As summer changes to fall, set a goal to get back into your kitchen. Start by cooking at home two to three times a week. You will automatically enjoy the health benefits of cooking at home. At home, you can monitor ingredients, make healthier choices, watch calories and portion sizes more easily.
Be successful by making a plan. Check to see what's in the cabinets and freezer. Experiment with some new healthier recipes. Look for ways to make your favorites by using low-fat or reduced-sugar products. For example, replace sour cream with low-fat plain Greek yogurt. Next time you are at the store, buy some new herbs and spices! Adding herbs and spices gives a burst of flavor instead of seasoning with salt or butter. Always have a fresh lemon on hand to substitute for salt. Remember, zest and then squeeze, don't throw out any of that delicious flavor. Enjoy fresh dill, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, sage, and basil to accent meals, buy herb plants and keep them on your kitchen windowsill to snip and flavor as needed. Hint, frozen herbs make cooking fast and friendly and are in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Enjoy the possibilities of experimenting with whatever ingredients appeal to you.
Try these simple changes towards healthier eating:
1. Make vegetables the focus of the plate. Yes, make vegetables the main entrée!
· Serve steamed, stir-fried or roasted vegetables along with a fresh side salad! Add seasonings like fresh grated lemon zest and pepper or fresh minced ginger, garlic, and cilantro. The combinations are endless when using herbs and spices.
· For roasting vegetables, spray a baking tray lined with foil with cooking spray. Place washed and cut vegetables into bite size portions in a single layer on the tray. Bake in the oven at 425°, approximately 20-30 minutes. You will enjoy the wonderful flavors that emerge from caramelized vegetables. Try roasting any of the following: mini peppers, carrots, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower and cabbage wedges. Make a mixture with lots of color for a delicious, healthy main entree.
2. Add low-fat protein as your side dish.
· Choose lean or low-fat meat, poultry, fish or seafood.
· Try meat alternatives like eggs, beans, nuts, and soy products.
3. Enjoy whole grains.
· Look for whole grain foods like whole oats, whole-wheat flour, whole-grain corn, whole-grain brown rice.
4. Choose low-fat dairy.
· Choose skim or 1% milk, low-fat yogurt and cheese too!
· Try almond or soy milk as an alternative. You can bake with unsweetened almond or soy milk, measuring cup for cup in recipes, just be careful not to use flavored milks in your recipes.
5. Don't' forget the fruit.
· Adding fruit provides sweetness and depth of flavor. Try sautéed apples over pork chops, grilled peaches, pineapple added to salsa or strawberries in spinach salad. Enjoy the health benefits of the vitamins and fiber in fruit.
Quick and Easy Homemade Ranch Style Dressing with Fresh Dill -Serves 4
1/2 cup of plain low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup of buttermilk
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 T. lemon juice concentrate
1 T. fresh dill, minced
Dash sea salt
Dash course ground black pepper
1. Add dressing ingredients to a pint jar. Shake well.
2. Drizzle dressing over fresh vegetables or a salad mixture.
3. Season with black pepper, to taste.
Nutrition Facts per serving; 92 Calories, 7g Total Fat, 2g Saturated Fat, 0g Trans Fat, 11mg Cholesterol, 140mg Sodium, 6g Carbohydrates, 0g Dietary Fiber, 2g Protein
Susan Glassman, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam Counties .