The cooler temperatures of Fall are upon us, so in a recent cooking demonstration at Baylor’s Virginia R. Cvetko Patient Education Center, we learned how to incorporate fresh Fall produce into warm comforting recipes.
It’s one of our Cancer Center Dietitian Whitney Hight’s favorite topics!
“I love to have a farmers market class at least 4 times a year. As you know, produce that’s seasonal changes with the Summer, Spring, Fall or Winter.”
During the Fall months, Whitney says take advantage of pumpkin, apples, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and butternut squash.
Ok, you’re probably thinking that sounds too fancy to make at home. But take it from this culinary novice… they were SO simple to make!
Check out these cool “Ingredient Maps” Chef Zoe made to illustrate the simple, fresh ingredients to the class:
“Ingredient Map” - Harvest Treasures Vegetable Soup
“Ingredient Map” – Focaccia with Rosemary & Grapes.
And although the ingredients were simple, these were some of the most flavorful dishes I’d ever tasted. NOW I get why they tell you to buy fruits and veggies “in season.” It makes all the difference!
On that note, Whitney our dietitian shared some additional benefits of planning your menu based on seasonality or what’s fresh:
Plan Your Meals According to the Season
1. It’s Cheaper! When produce is in season, the abundance of the crop will generally result in lower prices. You can also get better quality for a cheaper price. For example, right now in the Fall you can buy organic produce like kale, butternut squash, and grapes for the same price as regular because it’s in season.
2. It will Taste Better The produce will taste better because it’s been harvested at just the right time. When food is not in season locally, chances are it’s grown in a hothouse or shipped from other parts of the world. This can affect taste tremendously, as produce may not have been allowed to fully ripen. This can lead to less moisture and bland taste, not to mention the fact that the farther food has to travel to your door, the higher the cost in money and fuel.
3. Interesting Variety What’s fresh in the summer is drastically different from winter greens, squashes, and root vegetables. Visit localharvest.org to locate farmers’ markets in your area as well as find guides to seasonal produce.
4. The Closer the Better The farther food must travel from the farm to your plate, the more likely it has been treated with irradiation (to kill germs) and preservatives (example: wax) to protect it during its journey. To find out more about sustainable food choices, visit http://www.sustainabletable.org/shop/guides/
Harvest Treasures Vegetable Soup
Servings: 4 as main course, 6 as a side
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 3 medium carrots, cut into medium decie
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into medium dice
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups, 1/2-inch-cubed peeled butternut squash (about half a 2-ib squash
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- Pinch cayenne pepper; more to taste
- Kosher salt
- 1 quart lower-salt chicken broth
- 1 14.5-oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes (or fresh)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cups lightly packed, coarsely chopped kale
- 1 cup lower-salt canned chickpeas
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 6 minutes
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the squash, allspice, cayenee, and 1 tsp. salt and stir to combine.
- Add the broth, tomatoes with their juice, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the kale and the chickpeas and cook uncovered until the squash is tender and the kale has wilted, about 10 minutes more. (Discard the thyme springs before serving.) Season to taste with more salt and cayenne.
- Make Ahead: You can refrigerate this soup for 3 days or freeze for 2 months.
- Variations: Substitute with any favorite winter green, bean, or fall vegetable.
**Tasty Tip** via Dietitian Whitney Hight: ”Another thing I like about this recipe is its versatility. If you wanted to make this completely vegan, you could use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. It’s gluten free. It’s diabetic friendly. And it’s heart healthy because it’s low in sodium. It’s pretty much a recipe for anybody, if you’re having over several people with dietary restrictions. It can be made to fit everyone’s needs!”
**Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger for Fine Cooking
Focaccia Bread with Rosemary, Grapes, & Goat Cheese
- 1 pound whole wheat pizza dough
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Course sea salt, for sprinkling
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 shallot, cut into thinly sliced rounds
- 1-tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- ½ cup green grapes (seedless)
- ½ cup red grapes(seedless)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Roll the pizza dough into a rectangle on a sheet of parchment papers. Place dough and the parchment on a baking sheet.
- Spread the grapes over the dough (evenly spaced about 1-2 inches apart, alternating between red and green) and gently push grapes down into the dough.
- Using a pastry brush, cover the top of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt.
- Sprinkle the dough with the garlic, shallot, and rosemary.
- Bake the focaccia until golden brown, about 25 minutes.
- Cut into slices and serve.
- Substitute sliced fresh pears instead of grapes.
- Top with goat cheese for a tangy flavor or Parmesan shards for a saltier bite.
248 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 6 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 9 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 549 mg sodium
**Recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentis
Mark Your Calendar: Don’t miss these upcoming healthy cooking demos in November.
Nov. 14th, 2:00 – 3:30 PM
Do you enjoy pasta? Are you concerned that eating too much pasta may be unhealthy? Come learn various nutritional options when cooking with pasta and take in what has become one of America’s favorite foods. Registration required.
Holiday Hors d’oeuvres
Nov. 28th, 2:00 – 3:30 PM
Thinking of planning an impressive holiday party for your friends? Serving hors d’oeuvres is a fun way to enjoy a variety of foods. Join us to learn some wonderful ways to enjoy interesting and healthy appetizers. Registration required.
Healthy Cooking Classes are held twice a month in the cooking demonstration kitchen of the Virginia R. Cvetko Patient Education and Resource Center, Suite 200 in the Baylor Sammons Cancer Center. (Demonstrations are FREE, but registration is required by calling 214-820-2608.)
This blog post was contributed by Jennifer McDowell, Senior Marketing & Public Relations Consultant, Baylor Health Care System.