Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Two Obsessions

Here are two vegetables I am obsessed with. One new, one old.
First of all, kale. Kale is a delicious, super, super healthy leafy green. Not only is it packed with potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C but it also pairs well with lots of things or can be eaten alone. Another bonus is that it is in season in the winter and early spring, so buying it now gives you the best benefits and taste. Along with the awesome vitamins that this super vegetable provides, it's also low in calories, high in fiber, and really great for your health. It's health benefits include lowering cholesterol, heart healthy, and could even help with cancer prevention.

The easiest way to make kale is to simply steam it. Like spinach, it reduces down a ton so you can add a lot to your pan and it reduces to practically nothing. Steaming kale will help retain a lot of the nutrients and it's just a very simple cooking method. I for one don't really like eating plain, steamed leafy greens like kale or spinach SO I steamed the kale then added it to some orzo with a couple other ingredients (I'll add the recipe). Using kale this way made a VERY delicious meal.

So, next time you think about making rice, a pilaf, or even just want a nice leafy green side dish. Consider kale. It's delicious, earthy flavor will definitely leave you wanting more and wondering what else you could add it to!
 Now, secondly... butternut squash.... is by far one of my most favorite vegetables on this planet. I love winter squash, I believe it is God's gift to earth. The orange, earthy, slightly sweet vegetable is something I crave year round but this winter I have been keeping in the house a lot. I've made two delicious recipes that I will share later that are to... die... for.

This vegetable is very starchy so it can be used almost like potatoes... though they are much better in so many ways than potatoes. I've made casseroles, soups, and other side dishes using butternut squash and the texture is very similar to a potato. Unlike a potato, these vibrant orange gourds are packed full of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Also like a potato, they are a good source of fiber. Butternut squash can also easily steam like other starchy vegetables. It's even really delicious cubed, steamed, lightly buttered, and served. But the more you experiment with this vegetable, the better it will get. Yet another promise I can make!

Therefore, why not next time you're thinking you'd liked mashed potatoes, make some type of winter squash casserole. Or next time you want to make soup, replace the potatoes with butternut squash, like in minestrone or vegetable soup. Remember how important it is to buy veggies in season. Not only will this be helpful nutritionally but the taste will be much better.

I hope you try to introduce at least one of these into your diet. They are in season so they will be delicious, I promise. Plus, there are so many ways you can incorporate them into your meals without even noticing that you are trying a new, foreign vegetable.

Test out one or two of the following recipes from my blog to see if you like the new vegetables as much as I do:
  • Fall/Winter Minestrone Soup
  • Orzo with Kale
  • Butternut Squash Bake
  • Butternut Squash Risotto

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