We may be nearing the end of butternut squash season, but I am not quite ready to give it up. I’ve found that I can add this vitamin-A packed vegetable to just about any recipe and it always seems to work.
The other night, I was making a simple spinach salad for dinner and felt it needed a little more bulk. I grabbed the squash from my vegetable bowl and coated the cubed pieces with olive oil and sea salt, and popped them in the oven for 30-35 minutes – easy as that! The roasted squash looked beautiful and tasted even better!
I consider this one of those versatile vegetables that can be used in so many ways for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can add to pancake mixture, puree it and serve as a “mashed” side with chicken or fish, add to soups, include it in baked items like bread or muffins, serve as a creamy pasta sauce, and of course use it to top salads. The possibilities are endless! I am thinking that I may try to include it in a smoothie next.
Do you cook/bake with butternut squash? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it? Here’s my super simple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad recipe as pictured above:
Inflammation is the body’s response to harmful stimulus and occurs naturally in the body. We rely on this protective response from the immune system to eliminate injury to our cells and initiate repair. But when this function is out of balance, it can cause harm to our bodies. Over activity of the immune system, or chronic inflammation, can lead to a number of diseases and symptoms such as Rheumatoid arthritis/joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels.
To help curb chronic inflammation and keep our bodies in balance, it is best to avoid inflammatory foods (those high in sugar and saturated fats) and consume more anti-inflammatory foods (those rich in omega-3s and antioxidants). By eating more anti-inflammatory foods, you may find it easier to lose weight, slow down aging, and prevent disease. Check out the list below for anti-inflammatory foods worth eating:
Colorful Fruits & Vegetables:
(i.e. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets; blueberries, strawberries, red grapes, oranges, cherries)
Next time you’re in the produce section, pick up colorful fruits and veggies that catch your eye. These foods are jam-packed with flavonoids and carotenoids (the substances that give them their color), which are excellent antioxidants. These antioxidant-rich roods can help fight off and repair damage caused by inflammation.
Dark Leafy Greens:
(i.e. Spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens)
Dark greens are thought to have more vitamins and minerals than greens of a lighter color. High concentrations of vitamin E, calcium and iron help protect the body and fight disease.
(i.e. brown rice, quinoa, steel-cut oats)
According to Dr. Weil, “whole grains digest slowly, reducing frequency of spikes in blood sugar that promote inflammation.” Naturally low in fat and rich in fiber, whole grains are important for a healthy diet.
Beans and Legumes
(i.e. chickpeas, lentils, black beans)
Low on the glycemic index, beans are full of folic acid, magnesium, potassium, and fiber, and high in protein and iron. Incorporate different types of beans into your diet to help keep inflammation at bay.
(i.e. wild-caught salmon)
Fatty fish provide a wealth of omega-3 fatty acids (a powerful anti-inflammatory). To optimize the benefits, eat fish twice a week and prepare it in a healthy manner (baked or boiled versus fried).
(i.e. almonds, walnuts)
Healthy fats, such as nuts, help repair damage caused by inflammation. Nuts offer a beneficial dose of fiber, calcium, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.
Food is my true passion. To be more specific, I love exploring everything about healthy food – what it means to be “healthy,” how healthy food makes us feel, and how better food choices can improve our lives. In addition to sharing my passion through my website, my Healthy You Diet cookbook, and my online Healthy You Challenge, I am THRILLED to announce that I will be a contributing blogger on Prevention magazine’s new website EatClean.com, a site offering you “The Real Dirt On Real Food.”
I am always inventing (and sometimes re-inventing) recipes, and sharing tips and tricks that help me stay on track. Eat Clean gives me another opportunity to reach a broader audience and help people reach their own “healthy you” goals.
I hope you’ll join me on Eat Clean and discover the latest trends, news, and recipes surrounding clean eating!
Here are 3 of my healthy and warming soup recipes that recently appeared on EatClean.com:
Gluten-Free Veggie Noodle Soup with Navy Beans: Gluten-free and vegetarian, this recipe appeals to the masses. I love the noodle and bean combination. The carrots add a beneficial dash of vitamin A, which help maintain healthy skin, teeth, and eyes.
White Chicken Stew with Kale and Green Chilis: Chicken, beans, and fresh vegetables create a hearty soup full of protein. The jalapeno and green chiles offer a nice kick. Top the soup with fresh baked corn tortillas for a welcomed crunch.
Chicken Meatball Noodle Soup: This recipe is a twist on the classic chicken noodle soup. This version is incredibly comforting and satisfying for lunch or dinner.
Stress is unfortunately all too common in our lives and can affect us both mentally and physically; it can weaken the immune system, cause headaches and fatigue, irritate our digestive system, and raise blood pressure. Fortunately, what we eat can help us manage our stress and keep stress-induced symptoms at bay. Check out these four stress-busting foods that can easily be incorporated into our every day diets and keep us feeling good.
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are antioxidant-rich and high in vitamin C, which has been shown to fight stress while strengthening the immune system. My favorites are blueberries and blackberries. Although I love cooking with berries—cobblers, crumbles, etc. I find it so easy to simply add berries to cereal, oatmeal and baked goods like muffins and breads.
Fish, like tuna and salmon, that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can boost serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and keep the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, under control. I love topping grilled fish with chutney or relish made with fresh fruit and vegetables. Try this Grilled Salmon with Corn and Tomato Relish recipe.
A bowl of warm oats can help boost serotonin levels, which helps combat symptoms of stress and anxiety. High in fiber, oats will also keep you full longer helping to ward off emotional eating that often accompanies stress. Try this Apricot Almond Oatmeal recipe—its one of my favorite quick and simple breakfast recipes.
Rich in magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant and stress-reducer, spinach can help calm you therefore lessening the symptoms of stress. When your body is under stress or anxiety, you can deplete your magnesium levels. Spinach can help reverse this. I love using spinach in soups and stews. This Chicken and Wild Rice Soup recipe is not only packed with spinach but it’s a true comfort food. Other magnesium-rich foods include navy beans, lima beans, broccoli, bananas and oats.
There are a lot of great gluten-free pasta options out there, but have you considered using a veggie as a pasta alternative? This recipe substitutes calorie-dense pasta with a healthy and nutritious vegetable that will ultimately leave you with a light, fresh, and happy feeling. Plus, it’s fun to make!