Around the Table: Great, Grand Gourds – It’s Autumn!
I see a wide variety of gourds displayed in stores to grace our tables as both food, and as ornamentation during this autumn. While I enjoy decorating our home for the change of seasons, I enjoy the flavors of fall even more!
Gourds are technically fruit and are in the Cucurbitaceae family. The edible forms of gourds include melons and squashes. In particular, winter squashes are high in Vitamin A with a good supply of vitamin C. They tend to supply a good dose of magnesium, potassium, and manganese. They offer some calcium, too. According to medical reports, Vitamin A is needed for normal vision, normal functioning of our immune system (so important during flu and cold season), and to help our heart, lungs, and kidneys work properly.
Winter squash are relatively low in calories and have no cholesterol. They are easy to cook and can replace higher calorie starch in the diet (example: 1 cup cooked butternut squash equals 2 grams of protein and 82 calories per nutritiondata.com versus 2 slices of wheat bread equaling 6 grams protein, and 132 calories). I find winter squash whole in local grocery stores in the produce aisle and already peeled and cubed in the frozen vegetable section. I don’t have to worry about preservatives or “extra” ingredients hiding in our food when I am cooking fresh produce and that makes me feel good about what I serve our family.
According to the Everyday Mysteries: Fun Science Facts from the Library of Congress:
“Squash” comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked.”
Here are some of the recipes my family enjoys in the fall:
Basic Winter Squash Recipe
Wash the skin or peeling of the squash. Cut the squash in half if small or in pieces if large. Remove the seeds. Place the cut pieces in water. Cover and boil until soft. If boiling in a pot on the stove, add enough water to cover the squash and boil 10-15 minutes. If in the microwave, put about a cup of water in a large bowl, then add the squash and use a cover to catch the steam. (Some people peel the squash before cooking; some do not. I cook the squash and then serve it in the shell or easily scrape the edible part out with a spoon.)
Winter Breakfast (winter squash: butternut, acorn, spaghetti, cushaw squashes)
Wash and boil the winter squash. Serve in a bowl while still warm. For a sweet treat, top with brown sugar or honey or agave. For a savory dish, top with bacon crumbles or turmeric and salt, basil, or cheese.
Roasted Winter Squash
Wash the squash. Cut and remove seeds. Cut into 1-2 inch wide pieces, about 2-3 inches long. Toss in 2 Tablespoons olive oil and spices to your taste (sweet = brown sugar and nutmeg or allspice; savory = salt, garlic, rosemary or other spice). Bake in 400 F degree oven for 20-30 minutes.
Charl’s “Cheese” Recipe (practically “guilt free” of calories and cholesterol – Enjoy all you want!)
2-3 Cups of squash (butternut or zucchini), peel removed, cooked until soft.
1 to 1 ½ Cups water (the water you cooked the squash in is now full of nutrients!)
2-3 Tablespoons oil of your choice (avocado, olive, rice bran, safflower, etc.)
2-4 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin, optional (more gelatin makes a firmer cheese, less makes a soft dip, none makes soup)
1/3 cup starch (arrowroot or other starch, for body)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric, dry mustard, or other spice, optional
1 teaspoon sugar, optional (you may need more gelatin or starch if you sweeten with honey or agave)
Parchment paper, optional
Bowl or loaf pan
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Line a container (bowl or pan) with parchment paper for easy removal if you make it thick enough to lift it out and to slice it. Pour into the container and let set until firm, usually two hours. (I generally make it in the evening and let it set overnight in the refrigerator.)
We use this as a sauce for broccoli, spread it on bread and toast it for grilled cheese sandwich, or enjoy as a chip dip. It adds extra creaminess to tomato soup or can stand alone as butternut soup.
I hope you will try these recipes, tailor them to suit your taste, and let me know how you like them. With the holiday season upon us. So many people need to watch their waistlines, count calories, avoid allergens, and boost their immune systems, but don’t want to give up comfort foods. These recipes can be “friendly” for those following low histamine or low tyramine diets, paleo, vegan, auto-immune, allergy free, and other special meal plans. We look forward to sharing them with our friends at the upcoming festivities and gatherings.
Best of health to you all!
This article is not meant to diagnose nor recommend treatments for allergies or illnesses. As always, check with your health care provider to be sure that you are eating foods that are beneficial to you and your family, especially when there are certain dietary needs in your family.