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Veg4Health Newsletter

Focus on Winter Squash
Winter squashes are just beginning to show up on the grocer's shelves and they are good for eating as well as for decorating!  Winter squash comes in shapes round and elongated, scalloped and pear-shaped with flesh that ranges from golden-yellow to brilliant orange. Most winter squashes are vine-type plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. They take longer to mature than summer squash (3 months or more) and are best harvested once the cool weather of fall sets in. They can be stored for months in a cool basement or pantry-hence the name "winter" squash.  Each type of squash has a very distinct flavor and look.  Most squashes can be easily prepared by cutting them in half, removing the seeds, placing cut side down in a shallow baking pan and baking at 350 degrees until fork-tender (approximately 45 minutes).  They can also be microwaved or quickly prepared in a pressure cooker.  My favorite is a Sweet Dumpling Squash and we often simply cook it and mash with just a little Earth Balance and brown sugar.  It has a wonderfully sweet taste and there are never any leftovers in our house.  Butternut squashes are also a fairly sweet squash with a smooth, hard skin.  The best thing about butternut squashes, besides their sweet taste, is how easy they are to peel.  For YEARS I avoided any recipes which called for a peeled and diced butternut squash - and if you have ever tried to peel a winter squash with a paring knife, you know what I mean.  Then, I discovered a Y-shaped peeler - the only way to QUICKLY tackle the job.  Now we make all kinds of butternut squash soups and dishes.  Spaghetti squash is another variety of winter squash which is very easy to find year round in the grocers - thanks to those low-carb dieters who need a good substitute for pasta.  When cooked, spaghetti squash flesh pulls apart easily with a fork and resembles strings of pasta.  It has a very mild taste and can be served topped with olive oil and garlic, Earth Balance, or your favorite pasta sauce.  Spaghetti squash is a VERY easy way to "sneak in" an extra vegetable during dinner.  
Click here for a butternut squash recipe.

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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts


One of my favorite ways to eat Brussels Sprouts is in this Caramelized Brussels Sprouts recipe.   I love the sweetness of the glaze, coupled with the cabbage taste of the Brussels sprouts. Click here for the recipe.

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Brussels Sprouts - another Winter Vegetable!
A few days ago was the first day in over 132 days when the temperature actually dropped below 70 degrees!  WOW!  Maybe the Eternal Summer will actually end - at least for us.  It's finally ended in other parts of the country also- I can tell because the beginnings of the winter crop vegetables are showing up in the produce section and farmer's markets. It's the time of year when we begin making the switch from a plethora of fresh fruits to a plethora of fresh greens.  Now is when I begin looking for and finding Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, turnip greens and a wide variety of assorted greens.  When the first frosts begin to greet you in the morning, the greens are just beginning to take on their best taste.  I would be hard pressed to name a favorite - it's just too dependant on how they look and smell when I encounter them.  Today it was Brussels sprouts - that delicious, totally misunderstood and underappreciated cruciferous bulb.
Most people don't like them because they've never eaten a properly prepared sprout.  We like fresh ones the best because we can cut them in half and remove the bitter v-shaped core.  (Think of a very small cabbage.)  You can't remove that from the frozen sprouts.  There's just something far better about sautéed sprouts with garlic or sun-dried tomatoes than the whole, boiled, often-soggy, frozen variety.  Brussels sprouts are one of the VERY few vegetables which I would only serve if fresh - not frozen.  We love to sauté Brussels sprouts with a little olive oil, garlic and salt.  Sometimes we add diced sun-dried tomatoes or dried cranberries or even diced sweet potatoes for a little different flavor.  The possibilities are endless when you let your imagination run wild.