All Things Acorn Squash

Freshly picked selection:

Acorn Squash

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Acorn squash is also known as pepper squash, and while most people think of it as a winter squash it is actually part of the summer squash family.

How to store:

Acorn squash is one of the most perishable squashes and typically only lasts about 2 weeks. They can be stored refrigerated or left at room temperature.

Varieties:

The most common variety has a dark green skin with a yellow orange flesh. There are also golden acorn squashes, although they are not as common. Acorn squash typically weigh between 1 and 2 pounds.

How to prepare:

Acorn squash is most commonly baked. They can be stuffed and enjoyed whole, or cut into cubes or slices and roasted. Acorn squash also makes a great soup similar to a butternut squash.

Nutritional Benefit:
Health-benefits-ofacron squash

Recipes to try:

Acorn squash is very flavorful so you don’t need to do much with it. Premeditated Leftovers has a great simple recipe for roasting it.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Rosemary

Acorn squash are one of the best squash to stuff as they stand up on their own. You can cut the top off, scoop out the seeds, and stuff with your favorite ingredients. Paleo Running Momma has a tasty recipe that incorporates all of the flavors of fall.

Caramelized Onion, Apple and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

As we mentioned above, you can use it to make soup as well. Caroline’s Cooking pairs it with roasted apples for a unique flavor.

Roasted Apple & Acorn Squash Soup

For a non-traditional use of this tasty squash, The Vintage Mixer uses it in a spiced nut bread.

Acorn Squash Bread with Seeds and Nuts

Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

” I like to roast it with coconut oil and sprinkle cinnamon on top.”

-Brett Talenfeld, RD

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 3000 food, wine, and culinary terms. 3rd ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1995. Print.

Mateljan, George. The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007. Print.

Made Over Meals – Simple Changes to Make for Your Health

Making simple changes to your favorite dishes can go a long way when it comes to your health. We have compiled a list of our staff’s favorite meals and proposed some simple changes to a few key ingredients to make them over into something a tad healthier.  No matter what your journey is – eating healthy, losing weight, or avoiding food sensitivities, we all can benefit from making healthy changes to how we live!

Healthy Changes Collage

Lasagna

Healthy Swap: Switch out the pasta for thinly sliced vegetables such as zucchini, yellow squash, or ribbons of carrots.  Layer the vegetables with cheese and sauce.  By replacing the pasta with vegetables you are drastically cutting down on carbohydrates and increasing your vegetable intake – a bonus!

Corned Beef Reuben with Swiss, Sauerkraut, and Thousand Island Dressing

Healthy Swap: Instead of corned beef, think about using nitrate free turkey.  Make your own thousand island dressing (we really like this recipe), and choose a gluten free rye-style bread.

Chicken and Dumplings

Healthy Swap: This thick and creamy comfort food is easily made with gluten free flour, non-dairy butter type spread, and white meat chicken.  Instead of using heavy cream, use a non-dairy milk such as almond or organic soy milk.  Season generously and stir in lots of chopped veggies.

Mac-N-Cheese

Healthy Swap: We won’t beat around the bush with this one. This recipe is made with cashews! You won’t even know the difference – it is a well-loved dish in our office.

Meatloaf

Healthy Swap: There are so many ways to make meatloaf a little bit healthier.  Replace regular bread crumbs with ground oats (gluten free if needed), use ground turkey or chicken in the place of beef, and add in chopped vegetables such as carrots, onion, celery, spinach, kale, peppers, etc. You will have a veggie-packed meatloaf in no time!

Mashed Potatoes

Healthy Swap: Instead of the creamy butter and milk filled potatoes, change your line of thinking to a smashed potato.  Boil your potatoes as usual, smash the potatoes with a masher, and stir in good tasting olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs.

Chicken Tenders

Healthy Swap: Bread your chicken with gluten free bread crumbs, almond flour, or even chia seeds! The options are endless.  Season your breading with whatever your favorite spices are and bake in the oven or sauté on the stove top.  No batter or deep frying found here!

French Fries

Healthy Swap: Using a mandolin, cut the potatoes to the desired thickness.  If you don’t have one, cut the potato into wedges with a knife.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you desire.  Bake in a 400°F oven until they are brown and crisp.

Baked Ziti

Healthy Swap: Substitute regular pasta for whole grain or gluten free pasta, make your own marinara, and use grated vegetables mixed throughout along with half the cheese and more Parmesan than mozzarella.

Chicken Parmesan

Healthy Swap: Instead of breading and frying your chicken cutlet, simply toss the chicken in seasoned almond flour and pan fry until cooked through.  Serve on a bed of whole grain or gluten free spaghetti and cover with homemade marinara and a topping of Parmesan cheese.  Bake to melt the cheese.

Shephard’s Pie

Healthy Swap: While lamb is delicious, it is very fatty! Try a blend of lamb and lean beef, or forego the lamb altogether and use ground chicken or turkey.  Mix in all of your favorite vegetables (peas, carrots, celery, green beans, spinach, etc.) and top with a layer of mashed cauliflower.  Bake until heated through and bubbly!

Ice Cream

Healthy Swap: Oh delicious ice cream.  Instead of opting for the dairy filled version, make your own with coconut milk!  Be sure to use the full fat version for the best results.  Instead of using a ton of added sugar, skip it all together and use spices and extracts that give the impression of sweetness such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, or almond extract.  You don’t even need an ice cream maker!


Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. Her main recipe tester is her 20 month old son.  You can learn more about her here.

All Things Cinnamon

Freshly picked selection:

Cinnamon

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Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree. The bark is harvested in the rainy season when it’s more flexible.

How to store:

Store cinnamon in a cool dry place in an airtight container.

Varieties:

There are two different varieties of cinnamon. Cinnamonum Zeylanicum (Ceylon) and Cinnamomum Cassia (Cassia). Ceylon is lighter colored and has a mildly sweet flavor. Cassia cinnamon is darker and more reddish brown with a more pungent flavor. Cassia cinnamon is the most common in the United States and the one we typically cook with.

How to prepare:

Cinnamon typically comes as a fine ground powder or in whole sticks. Whole sticks can be ground and used as ground cinnamon.

Nutritional Benefit:

health-benefits-of-cinnamon

Recipes to try:

Cinnamon is great for sweet dishes but also adds a great taste to savory dishes as well. We are big fans of this nutrient-packed spice and have tons of recipes that feature it.

Butternut Squash Chickpea Soup

Homemade Spiced Cider

Gluten Free Apple Quinoa Bites

Chai Seed Pudding

Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

” I put cinnamon on everything! I love it in oatmeal or on top of fruit such as pineapple, apples, and pears. I also like cinnamon tea to help settle my stomach or I might mix some cinnamon with some cocoa powder in a heated dairy free milk for a warm treat”.

-Jen Mahama, PreviMedica Navigator

 

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 3000 food, wine, and culinary terms. 3rd ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1995. Print.

Mateljan, George. The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007. Print.

Jump-Start Your Day with a Better Breakfast

You hear it all the time that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet most of us are barely eating breakfast or find ourselves skipping it all together. Starting your day off with a well-rounded breakfast is a great way to keep your metabolism in check. Eating breakfast may also help you make better food choices throughout the day, in addition to giving you the energy you need to fuel your morning instead of relying solely on caffeine.

You don’t need to have a huge breakfast, but making sure it is balanced can make all the difference. Make sure to include a protein, fat, and carbohydrate source each time. This will help balance your blood sugar first thing in the morning, but also help keep you full and satisfied until lunch. To read more about this balanced way of eating check out our blog post on balancing meals here.

Here are just a few of our favorite easy, go-to breakfast ideas to help you celebrate Better Breakfast Month.


 

This make-ahead breakfast in a jar is great for those of you on the run, as you can make it the night before and eat it on the go.

Protein Packed Yogurt Mason Jar

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Another tasty make-ahead option are these protein energy bites. These can be customized to your liking and you can use different dried cereal or nut butters to come up with your favorite combination. These get made ahead of time and kept in the freezer so you can grab a few on your way out the door.

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

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Smoothies are an excellent breakfast option as well. You can get in some fruits, veggies, and protein all in one tasty glass.

Kiwi-licious Green Smoothie 

Kiwi SpinachAnd lastly, we can’t do a post about breakfast and not include a pancake recipe of course. If you are a pancake fan like us, check out this post for some other options.

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Megan Huard, Chef RD is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. You can learn more about her here.

{Nourished Kids} Homemade Apple Sauce Pouches

If you go to the grocery store you are very likely to find a few different versions of apple sauce in pouches. They are the perfect, portable snack that your little one doesn’t need a spoon to eat! Save a little bit of money the next time you go to the store and buy organic apples, then make your own! You can purchase reusable pouches online (which are better for the environment) and freeze them for a grab and go snack. It doesn’t get any easier than steaming and blending.

 

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Homemade Applesauce Pouches

Written By: PreviMedica Culinary Advisors

Makes: 3 pouches

Ingredients:

  • 4 apples (gala works well)
  • A tiny pinch of salt
  • Cinnamon or other seasonings for flavor

Directions:

  1. Chop the apples up into chunks and place in the basket of a steamer. You can leave the skin on or off.  As long as you have a good blender it is ok to leave the skin on.
  2. Steam the apples until they are soft.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Place the apples in a blender and season with the salt and cinnamon (if using).  Blend well!
  4. Pour into reusable pouches and refrigerate or freeze for later. Enjoy!

 

*Note: there are many reusable pouches on the market but we love Wee Sprout’s “Nature’s Little Squeeze” and their various options for sizes.  You can find them at: https://www.weesprout.com/

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Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. Her main recipe tester is her 20 month old son.  You can learn more about her here.

 

Previ Culinary: Homemade Spiced Apple Cider

The scent of apples and cinnamon cooking gets rid of the fall chill and this cider is sure to warm you from the inside out. By cooking this cider in the slow cooker long and slow, the flavors are rich while the aromas linger long after it’s finished. Enjoy sipping your way into the fall and winter seasons with this slow cooker cider!

Homemade Spiced Apple Cider

Written By: PreviMedica Culinary Advisors

Ingredients:

  • 4 apples of different varieties, sliced
  • 1 pear, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 4-5 star anise
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves (or whole cloves if you can find them)
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a stockpot or slow cooker with nine cups of water. Bring to a simmer and simmer covered for at least two hours.  If you are cooking in a slow cooker, you can cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  2. Once all fruit is broken down, strain the cider and serve hot or chilled.

apple_cider


Megan Huard, Chef RD and Stefanie Gates, chef, are regular contributors to our blog and culinary advisors for PreviMedica. They enjoy developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. You can learn more about them here and here.

All Things Pumpkin

Freshly picked selection:

Pumpkin

12063418_10153695458234826_1327006740258889232_nThe large round orange pumpkin is a member of the gourd family and is actually a fruit.

What to look for when purchasing:

The smaller the pumpkin the more tender and flavorful it will be. Make sure to choose pumpkins that are free of blemishes and feel heavy for their size.

How to store:

Store whole pumpkins at room temperature for up to a month or the refrigerator for 3 months. Once cut the pumpkin should be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Varieties:

There are tons of different varieties of pumpkin. Aladdin pumpkins are the big ones that we typically see around the holidays and are used for carving jack-o-lanterns. Sugar pumpkins are the smaller pumpkins that are better for eating. And lastly, that canned pumpkin you use to make pumpkin pie isn’t actually a pumpkin after all but a squash called Dickinson that is very similar to a pumpkin.

How to prepare:

Pumpkins are extremely versatile. Not only can the pumpkin flesh be eaten but the seeds can as well. To prepare pumpkin it can be steamed or boiled and then mashed into a puree or even roasted. Pumpkin seeds, also know as pepitas, produce a great nutty flavor when roasted and can be eaten as a snack or on top of salads.

Nutritional Benefit:

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Recipes to try:

When you see recipes for pumpkin they are almost always prepared more on the sweet side but pumpkin works great as a savory dish as well (and even one with a little kick!).

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Wedges

The pumpkin itself is tasty but the seeds are equally as good when roasted. Wholefully showcases 6 different ways to flavor pumpkin seeds for some options.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I bet you never thought to put pumpkin in hummus but it is a great combo and a perfect appetizer for any fall get together.

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Pumpkin Hummus

If you like your pumpkin on the sweet side our diary free pumpkin pudding is sure to hit the spot.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Pudding

And of course we can’t forget the best use of pumpkin; the pumpkin spice latte. We made our own healthy version that tastes even better.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

 Our Chefs & Nutritionists Say:

We are big fans of everything pumpkin flavored in our office. One of our favorites is these tasty No Bake Pumpkin Bites. They are gluten free and super easy to make.

 

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 3000 food, wine, and culinary terms. 3rd ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1995. Print.

Mateljan, George. The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007. Print.

Previ Culinary: Banana Pumpkin Bread

We are welcoming fall with open arms! We thought it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce our naturally sweetened Banana Pumpkin Bread. Baking it is just as good as eating it as the scent of cinnamon and pumpkin float through the air. This bread is sweetened only with bananas and no added sugar, so those sensitive to sweeteners can rejoice! We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 

Banana Sweetened Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from: www.gourmetkoshercooking.com

Makes: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 over ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup oil (organic canola, coconut, safflower, sunflower)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened dairy free milk
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 ¾ cup gluten free flour blend
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Grease a 4×8 loaf pan.
  3. In a bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients, set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold gently until all ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Pour into the greased loaf pan and spread with a spatula until smooth on top.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool on a cooling rack completely.
  9. Can freeze up to 3 months.

Banana Pumpkin Bread


Megan Huard, Chef RD and Stefanie Gates, chef, are regular contributors to our blog and culinary advisors for PreviMedica. They enjoy developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. You can learn more about them here and here.

 

 

 

All Things Coffee

Freshly picked selection:

Coffee

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Coffee is thought to have originated in Ethiopia and then made its way to Colombia and Brazil. It is now grown throughout Central and South America.

What to look for when purchasing:

Purchasing coffee is usually based off of taste preferences. American roast coffee beans are medium roasted producing a moderate brew that’s not too light and not too dark. French roast tends to be much darker and stronger. Italian and European roasts are used more for espresso.

How to store:

Store whole roasted beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. If you want to store it for longer, you can keep them in the freezer. Once your coffee has been ground, it is best to keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator as they will go stale within a few days.

Varieties:

There are hundreds of varieties of coffee, with two main species that are commercially available, which are Coffea Robusta and Coffea Arabica. Robusta grows best in lower altitudes and produces beans that have a stronger, harsher flavor, whereas the Arabica grows in high altitudes and has more elegant and complex flavors. The coffee flavor though is mostly dependent on how long the beans are roasted for.

How to prepare:

Coffee comes in many forms. Most of the time we purchase it as whole beans or ground coffee beans to brew as our morning Cup of Joe. Typically hot water is added to coffee beans to brew coffee. You can also use ground coffee in recipes and even actually eat whole coffee beans.

Nutritional Benefit:

CoffeeRecipes to try:

For a caffeinated spin on overnight oats, Motion Mom has a unique recipe that is sure to kick start your morning.

Café Mocha Overnight Oats

If you are feeling ambitious in the kitchen, try using coffee as an ingredient in a rub. The Crepes of Wrath uses coffee to crust beef tenderloin.

Coffee Crusted Beef Tenderloin

On the more savory side, did you know that you can add coffee to chili? My Life With Food has a robust chili recipe that is sure to satisfy.

Beef Chili with Coffee & Dark Chocolate

Last but certainly not least, it wouldn’t be a post about coffee unless there was a recipe for a great latte.

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte

Our Chef Says:

 “I like to freeze leftover brewed coffee in ice cubes trays and then add the coffee ice cubes to a blender with dairy free milk and cocoa powder for a frozen coffee drink minus the guilt.” – Megan Huard, Chef RD

References:

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food lover’s companion: comprehensive definitions of over 3000 food, wine, and culinary terms. 3rd ed. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1995. Print.

Mateljan, George. The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007. Print.

Guide to Grain Free Flours

Grain free flours are becoming more and more popular as people look for gluten free alternatives for their baked goods. How do you go about selecting what flour you’d like to bake or cook with? Are they interchangeable? No grain free flour is the same, so use our chart to help you make a decision. Happy baking!

Grain Free Flours Piktochart

 


Stefanie Gates, chef, is a regular contributor to our blog and culinary advisor for PreviMedica. She enjoys developing recipes and creating cooking videos to share with our readers, as well as working one-on-one with our clients to teach them valuable cooking skills. Her main recipe tester is her 21 month old son.  You can learn more about her here.

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