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 An apple a day keeps the doctor away and a few squash don't hurt either.



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 An apple a day keeps the doctor away and a few squash don’t hurt either.

Apples and squash are not only healthful but plentiful. Cooked together, their rich flavors and compatible textures blend well for a vegetable purée side dish.

Apples have long been touted for their healthful properties, and there is now scientific proof that the assumptions are true. One study shows that apples are the most concentrated food source of flavonoids, a group of phytochemicals, natural substances that have been found to protect against cancer and heart disease, and may block the ability of certain viruses to grow and spread.

Much of the flavonoids’ protection against cancer and heart disease seems related to their antioxidant power. Health experts say that if people eat five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day, flavonoid consumption can reach a healthy range.

Squash, too, is full of healthful properties. Winter squash, such as acorn, Hubbard, and butternut, is more concentrated in several nutrients than summer squash. Its dark color is a hint that winter squash is an outstanding source of carotenoids, a family of antioxidants believed to enhance immunity and heart health as well as play an anticancer role. Winter squash is also a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, riboflavin, and dietary fiber.

Choose squash that are heavy for their size and have a hard, deep-colored rind that is free of blemishes or moldy spots. A simple combination of squash and apples makes a good side dish for poultry. Puréed vegetables have become trendy in upscale restaurants, but they are easy to reproduce with the home kitchen blender.


Apple Fennel Salad With Cider Vinaigrette

1/3  cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar 2 Tbs apple cider or apple juice ¼ tsp ground nutmeg ¼ tsp ground ginger ½ tsp honey, or to taste Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 2 Gala apples 12–16 leaves (depending on size) dark leafy green or red lettuce, washed and dried ½ small red onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced (1/8-inch) 1 small fresh fennel bulb, trimmed, thinly sliced

Toast pecans in a skillet over high heat until they take on a slightly toasted taste, occasionally stirring or gently shaking the pan to avoid burning. Depending on the skillet and intensity of heat, this takes only a few minutes. (The nuts can also be toasted on a baking sheet in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 5 minutes; watch nuts carefully to avoid burning.) As soon as the nuts are toasted, immediately transfer them to a small bowl and set aside.

Prepare vinaigrette. Combine in a blender (or a bowl with a whisk) the oil, vinegar, cider, nutmeg, ginger, honey, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust amount of salt and pepper used, if desired.

Core, seed, and cut apples into thin slices. To prevent them from discoloring, place slices into a bowl containing water and a small amount of lemon juice.

Arrange 3 to 4 lettuce leaves on each of 4 salad plates to make a bed for apple/fennel mixture. Stems of lettuce leaves should be at the center of the plates.

Drain apple slices and pat dry with paper towels. Alternating slices of apple, onion, and fennel, arrange the three ingredients over the lettuce. Sprinkle with pecans. Reblend vinaigrette and drizzle over salads, or transfer dressing to a cruet or small pitcher to serve with salads. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 157 calories, 12 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 14 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 21 mg sodium.

Squash and Apple Purée

3 lbs winter squash (such as acorn, butternut, or Hubbard) 3 large baking apples (Rome Beauty, York Imperial, or Granny Smith) 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper ½ cup toasted wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees,

Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy portions. Place in a large baking pan cut side down and bake until soft, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size.

About 30 minutes before you expect squash to be done, poke a few holes in the apples. Add to the baking pan. When squash and apples are tender but not mushy, remove from oven.

Cut apples in half to aid in cooling.

Scoop squash out of their shell, or pull off peel. Remove peels, seeds, and cores of apples. Place squash and apple in a blender. Add parsley and pepper. Purée.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread purée in a baking dish lightly sprayed with oil. Sprinkle wheat germ evenly over the top. Bake 20 minutes, or until bubbling softly. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 155 calories, 1 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 37 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 9 g dietary fiber, 347 mg sodium.


Roasted Sweet Potato, Squash And Pineapple Salad

2 sweet potatoes (or yams), peeled and cut in ¾-inch slices 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1-inch chunks 2 rings sliced, ripe fresh pineapple, 1-inch thick, each cut in 8 pieces 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut in 1-inch pieces 2 large shallots, sliced 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, or spray olive or canola oil 1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried) Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange sweet potatoes (or yams), squash, pineapple, apple, and shallots on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle on rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Use hands to mix so that all pieces are coated with oil (or lightly mist with spray olive or canola oil and mix). Spread out vegetables in one layer, with pieces of fruit on top of them.

Roast until vegetables are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Serve lukewarm or at room temperature. This dish is best served the day it is made. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 135 calories, 3 g total fat (less than 1 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 313 mg sodium.

Pumpkin Bisque

1 Tbs canola oil 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped 1 leek, white part only, finely chopped 4 cups nonfat, reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth 1 yam or sweet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut in ½-inch slices 1 can (16 oz) puréed pumpkin ¼ tsp dried thyme leaves Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 4 tsp finely minced chives, for garnish

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the leek and apple until the leek softens, about 4 minutes.

Add the broth, yam, pumpkin, and thyme. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until the yam and apple are soft when pierced with a knife, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer soup to a blender or food processor and purée. Divide among 6 bowls. Garnish, if desired, with the chives and serve. Makes 6 cups or 6 servings.

Per serving: 82 calories, 3 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 14 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 392 mg sodium.

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