Today’s Superfood: Winter Squash

Winter squash is a very diverse fruit containing many varieties. All with different shapes, colors, and flavors. Winter squash is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids. The diverse assortment of winter squash makes it a great addition to snacks, meals and deserts. The best way to find your favorite is to taste new flavors!

 

The Seeds

10,000 years ago winter squash were desired for their delectable seeds. All winter squash contain a hollow inside that holds their seeds. The seeds of winter squash make them the perfect snack.

After opening the squash, scoop out the center. Next, separate the inside pulp from the seeds. Bake the seeds at 160 degrees for 20 minutes. Bag the seeds to create easy snacks!

Varieties of Winter Squash

Here are some of the popular choices:

Winter Squash Appearance Flavor Recipe Ideas
Acorn Small, resembling the shape on an acorn. A dark green skin with golden blemishes Sweet Slice in half, remove seeds, sprinkle with brown sugar and a little butter for a delicious treat
Banana A long squash that resembles a banana with golden orange skin Sweet A tasty and popular way to uses banana squash is roasting it for lunch or dinner
Butternut Squash Bell-shaped and beige in color skin and deep orange flesh Sweet and Nutty Peel, slice and cook butternut squash, puree and add seasoning for a winter soup
Carnival Squash Cream, orange, green spots and stripes this squash will sure remind you of a carnival Lightly Sweet Stuff carnival squash with quinoa, pasta or yours favorite ground meat
Spaghetti Squash Watermelon shaped and bright yellow in color Nutty Whip up a quick lunch! Slice squash in half, bake for 30min at 400 F, scape out flesh, add butter and Parmesan cheese

Preparing

Winter squash are very diverse. They can be incorporated in both sweet and savory dishes. Also, many squash are interchangeable in recipes.

  • Rinse the squash under cool water to remove any debris
  • Helpful hint* microwave the squash for 1-2 minutes making it easier to peel and slice
  • Use a potatoes peeler to remove the outside skin
  • Slice the squash in half
  • Remove seeds and bake for a snack!
  • Continue slicing squash as desired
A fun and seasonal recipe from the Cupcake Project

Butternut

1 pound elbow macaroni

20 ounces butternut squash

2 cups fat- free milk

2 cups grated soft cheese

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup grated hard cheese

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions

Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions

Drain the macaroni and transfer it to a large bowl.

Place the squash and milk in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally and bring to a boil.

Transfer to a blender or food processor and combine until smooth.

Transfer back to saucepan and stir with grated soft cheese and ricotta until the cheeses are all melted.

Remove from heat and add salt, mustard, and cayenne pepper.

Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine.

Mix in the garlic and onions.

Fill cupcake liners with the mixture. Because this is mac and cheese and not cupcake batter, you don’t need to worry about the mixture rising.

In a small bowl, combine grated hard cheese, panko breadcrumbs, and oil.

Sprinkle mixture over the top of the mac and cheese cupcakes.

Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes or until topping is lightly browned.

http://www.cupcakeproject.com/

Pick the Perfect Produce and Cook Seasonally

Select Seasonal

There are so many benefits to choosing seasonal produce. All through out the year new flavors and colors of fruits and veggies are available. Eating with the seasons gives you and your family the opportunity to eat a rainbow of colors all year round.

The taste of seasonal produce is richer and more flavorful than non-seasonal. Non-seasonal produce is shipped from all around the world. During the transportation produces it often loses it taste and nutritional value.

Along with better flavor, another major benefit is the price! The abundance of crop and local distance allows it to be sold for less.

Winter Produce Guide

blog post_produce

Broccoli: choose broccoli that is deep green, with tightly packed heads. The heads should be firm and bigger than the stem. (See the super food benefits of broccoli here)

 

Cauliflower: choosing cauliflower is similar to broccoli. You are looking for a tightly packed head that is firm when touched. Unlike broccoli, you want your cauliflower to be pale with no visible dark sports

  • Tip: Cauliflower can spoil easily so keep it wrapped tightly in the fridge crisper drawer

Kale: select thick, crisp leaves- they should be dark green in color with no wilted edges. (See the super food benefits of leafy greens here)

Pomegranate: the heavier the pomegranate, the juicer! Select pomegranates heavy in size and deep in color. The color may vary across the pomegranate with no effect on its flavor

Beets: purchase heavy beets with minimal flaws

Brussels Sprouts: choose vibrant green sprouts that are tightly closed

Mandarins: pick deep orange mandarins that are firm. (See the super food benefits of citrus here)

Mushrooms: choose mushrooms that are not too wet and not too dry- perfectly moist.

Root Vegetables: root veggies should be firm with minimal discolored spots

Sweet Potatoes: choose orange sweet potatoes for a sweeter flavor and golden sweet potatoes for a creamy flavor. (See the super food benefits of sweet potatoes here)

Winter Squash: look for deep colors with no flaws, cracks or spots

Find in season produce at your local famers market! To find a farmers market close to you visit http://www.arizonafarmersmarkets.com/

Incorporate seasonal produce into your meals and snacks! Try a hearty winter recipe

by Eat Good Food.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 1.12.27 PM

Sweet Potato Cauliflower Soup

1 large head cauliflower

Olive oil for drizzling

3 medium to large sized peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces

1 sweet onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

7 cups filtered water

First, preheat your oven to 400 °F and cut up your cauliflower into bite sized pieces.

Place cauliflower onto ungreased cookie sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil.

Place in oven and let roast until golden brown on the tops and tender, but not mushy, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool while you cook the rest of the soup.

In large stockpot, bring sweet potato, onion, garlic and water to a boil. Salt (abt 3/4 tsp) and stir. Reduce heat and allow to remain at a constant simmer until sweet potatoes are tender.

Add in cooked cauliflower and divide soup into 2 parts.

Let soup cool and then blend one part soup in blend.

Enjoy!

http://www.allysonkramer.com/

Food Art: Winter Snowman

Christmas is quickly approaching and there is no better time to add some Christmas cheer to your morning breakfast!

First, prepare your pancake batter. Add benefit by using whole-wheat batter.

Pour your snowman to desired shape. Give him two, three or four snowballs. Make him big or little. Even create an entire snowman family!

IMG_2737   IMG_2738   IMG_2743

While your snowman is cooking, gather your toppings. Get creative!

Here are some ideas:

Fresh berries for the buttons and eyes

Dark chocolate chips for a chocolaty mouth

Bacon and sausage for arms or a scarf

Powdered sugar for sprinkling snow

Syrup or peanut butter for taste

We would love to see your creations! Send them in, post them below or post them to our Facebook page!

Help your Child Ace their Tests

While testing time is a particularly stressful time for students and parents- eating the proper foods can make all the difference. Certain foods are better than others when it comes to fueling our brains. That is why emphasis on nutrition during this time should not be overlooked. Brain-boosting foods provide energy and allow for concentration and focus. Giving students the added edge they need to be successful!

COMPLEX CARBS: The brain is picky when comes to its fuel. It prefers steady and consistent energy. This stable energy comes from complex carbohydrates. This means, avoid eating cookies, cakes and muffins during exam week. These will leave the brain feeling tired and unfocused! Instead, get carbs from fruits, veggies and whole grains!

PROTEIN: Protein provides the brain with important amino acids. These amino acids are needed to send signals and so the brain can perform its fundamental functions. It is best to get some protein into every meal!

FATS

Don’t forget to add a little fat! It is not the amount of fat but the type of fat. Fried foods and hydrogenated oils are types to avoid. Get fats from natural sources like seeds and fish.

blog post_brain foods01

The perfect meal includes a balanced combination of protein, carbs and fat.

Energize your brain with these top brain foods!

Fruits: grapefruit, apples, cherries, pears, grapes, and oranges

Whole grains: oatmeal, rice, pasta, and cereal

Vegetable: leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower

Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas

Seafood: salmon, tuna, sardines, and cod

Dairy: yogurt, fat-free milk, and cheese

Seeds: flaxseeds, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts

Eggs

meal-planner-icon-smallBrain food should start at breakfast! Consuming the right foods in the morning will make a significant difference in behavior and a student’s ability to learn. Use this sample menu for guidance during testing week!

Monday

Oatmeal with fresh sliced fruit

Fruit will just enough sweetness to make a delicious breakfast. Sprinkle their favorite seed over the top to add healthy fat. Oatmeal is filling and easy to make. The perfect way to start the week!

Tuesday

Scrambled eggs with whole-wheat toast

Eggs are a great source of protein. Whole-wheat toast is the perfect complex carb to keep full longer.

Wednesday

Black bean breakfast burrito

Uses a whole-wheat tortilla, fill with eggs and black beans. Add in any extras- avocado, salsa, and sour cream. This is the complete combination to give lots of energy during a crucial time- the middle of the week.

Thursday

Fruit, yogurt with granola

Incorporating carbs, protein and calcium. Satisfied your taste bunds and brain!

Friday

Whole-wheat pancakes

Treat a working brain to some tasty pancakes! Add peanut butter and banana or fresh fruit to add extra fuel.

 

Remember to also-

Get plenty of sleep- rest your brain the nigh before, student’s need energy from food and sleep.

Avoid over eating- getting adequate calories is great but feeling like you do on thanksgiving is not.

Pack a snack– even after a filling breakfast; a snack will give students the boost they need.

Study- starting practicing the information well in advance and avoid cramming.

Eat lunch– When the middle of the day hits, student are in need of extra energy to finish the day strong. CUSD Nutrition provides nutritious meals to do just that!

What does your family do to get through testing time? Share your tips and ideas!

Today’s Super Food: Citrus

Refreshing and juicy citrus brings brightness to the holidays! Citrus is often associated with summer time. However, the cool, winter season is when citrus is at it’s best. Plus, there are abundant varies available. Citrus are not just a treat for your mouth they are richly nutritious. Savor new flavors this holiday season!

blog post_superfood_citrus02

Superfood Suggestion: Interestingly, vitamin C increases the absorption of the nutrient iron. Consume iron rich foods (red meats, dark leafy greens, beans, fortified cereals and breads) witch citrus to increase absorption.

Superfood Citrus Vitamin C Power During the winter months citrus is a wonderful source of vitamin C. Vitamin C has powerful antioxidant power. Giving our bodies extra immune protection during cold and flu season.

Did you know? Citrus fruits, like oranges, were given to soldiers on long ocean voyages. The vitamin C contact in citrus is so plentiful it prevented them from suffering a deficiency.  

Full with Fiber Citrus fruits make great snacks because of their high fiber content. Unlike eating a bag of chips, citrus will make you feel full and satisfied longer.  

blog post_superfood_citrus01

Citrus Season

Citrus fruits add abundant amounts of flavor to food. There are endless possibilities- slice them up for a salad topper, squeeze them for fresh juice, or use their skin for zest.  

  • Oranges are sweet and juicy. They come in third for the world’s favorite flavor. Oranges are incredibly easy to eat- just peal and enjoy!
  • Lemons are sour in taste and even the thought of them may make your mouth pucker! Even though lemons are not eaten right from the skin, they add lots of flavor to any meal. One of the best ways to use lemons is in replacement of salt.
  • Tangerines are deliciously sweet. Surprisingly, they have the highest vitamin C content for citrus fruits- even more than oranges!
  • Blood oranges are known for their intense bright red flesh. The red flesh means more antioxidants! There flesh is not only delicious it makes a fun an appealing look, great for kids! (see below)  

Incorporate citrus in a unique way with this recipes from Super Healthy Kids!  

pink-cauliflower-poppers-2

Pink Cauliflower Poppers!

1 Bunch Cauliflower, chopped

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 475 degrees

Arrange cauliflower on a cookie sheet Drizzle olive oil on top and give a quick stir till all cauliflower is coated Roast for 10 minutes, or until tops begin to brown and cauliflower is tender with a slight crunch.

Dressing: 2 Blood oranges, peeled and quartered

1/3-cup raw cashews

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth and creamy Add orange juice to thin if necessary to create desired consistency Combined the dressing with the roasted cauliflower Enjoy! http://www.superhealthykids.com/pink-cauliflower-poppers/

Allergy or Intolerance?

A physical reaction after eating particular foods is very common, especially in children. However, how do you know if your child has food allergy or food intolerance? They share some of the same symptoms so deciphering can be difficult. Both allergies and intolerance’s to food may develop through-out life. The best thing to do is watch your child for symptoms after eating common allergy foods.

What is a food allergy?

1 in 13 children in the United States currently struggle with food allergies.

For no particular reason a person may be allergic to a food. If they consume this food their body will recognize it as an invader. This will cause an immune response in their body. This immune response is what triggers the bad and uncomfortable symptoms experienced. In the case of a food allergy, the response is often severe and can occur even when touching the allergen food.

What is food intolerance?

Unlike a food allergy, food intolerance does not cause an immune response in the body. Instead it occurs when your body lacks the proper proteins to break down a food. If the food cannot be digested it will cause a variety of GI related symptoms. Food intolerance is very uncomfortable but usually less severe and not life threatening.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that food allergies among children increased 50% between 1997 and 2011. A large leap with no clear answer why.

The Symptom Difference

Food Allergy

 

Food Intolerance
Immediate reaction after eating the food Symptoms may appear later
Eating a small amount or touching the food will cause symptoms A small amount can be consumed with little effect
Life-threatening Not life-threatening
Nausea

Stomach pain

Diarrhea

Vomiting

Rash, Hives, Itchy skin

Shortness of breath

Chest pain

Drop in blood pressure

Trouble swallowing or breathing

Nausea

Stomach pain

Diarrhea

Vomiting

Cramps

Bloating

Heartburn

Headaches

Nervousness

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends some effective tips for living with a food allergy or intolerance:

 most_common_food_allergens

Read Labels Carefully: Double check labels every time you buy. Manufactures may change ingredient or items may contain unexpected foods. Don’t forget to check non-food items as well: cosmetics, soaps, and skin care.

Luckily the Food and Drug Administration has required food companies to specify if their food contains any of the eight most common allergens.

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (walnuts, cashews)
  • Fish (pollock, salmon, cod, tuna, snapper, eel and tilapia)
  • Shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Talk with your daycare and school: Inform teachers, nurses, and administrators at your child daycare and school of any food allergies or intolerances. They can make accommodations to make sure your child is protected.

Chandler Unified School District and Allergies

CUSD Nutrition goes to extra lengths to make sure students suffering with allergies are safe.

Want to find out what foods are safe and allergen free for your child?

Visit http://cusdnutrition.nutrislice.com/

Select your child’s school menu

Hover over any food item to see if it contains any of the 8 allergens

Even better! Have everything containing the allergen crossed off the menu using the filter located on the right side of the menu.

If you would like a separate menu created for your child to accommodate their allergies click here for more information.