Friday, September 26, 2014

Farm to Table: Black Bean Butternut Squash Chili

          Last week I attended a Farm to Table event at Green Meadow Farm in Hamilton, Mass., put together by the Northeast Mass Dietetics Association for dietitians in the area. During the event we got to enjoy local foods prepared by the farm's own chef and listen to a fellow dietitian and local food enthusiast, Nicole Cormier, talk about ways to incorporate sustainable eating into our practice as dietitians. I have always had an interest in eating locally because of the benefit to our environment, as well as the improved nutrient quality and taste of our food. What I didn't realize was how much of an impact it can have on improving lifestyle habits and health.

Here are some simple ways you can enjoy locally grown foods...

- Shop at a local farmers market
-Take part in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
-Visit a local farm and pick your own fruits and vegetables
- Start your own vegetable or herb garden
-Plan a meal knowing where all your foods come from

            My recipe for Black Bean Butternut Squash Chili is perfect for this post because all of the produce can be found at a farmers market this time of year! I made it for my husband and brother in law, and they loved it! I'd call that a success!

Black Bean Butternut Squash Chili

Time: 1 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 small Butternut Squash ( ~1.5 pounds), peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Red Pepper, diced
  • 1 Green Pepper, diced
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans low sodium Black Beans
  • 16 ounces low sodium diced tomatoes , diced
  • 2-3 cups low sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp Allspice
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 3 cups raw kale
  • Salt/pepper to taste
1. In a large pot sauté all vegetables (onions, garlic, peppers, butternut squash) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Make sure to stir vegetables each minute for even cooking.
2. Once onions translucent turn down heat to medium low.
3. Add remaining spices, diced tomatoes, and vegetable broth, cover and cook for 1 hour.
4. Once the butternut squash is tender add in the kale and cook for about 2-3 minutes until all the kale is wilted.
5. Once the chili is complete top with your favorite ingredients (cheese, Greek yogurt, avocado, cilantro, hot sauce etc.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homemade Granola Bars

     Granola bars are one of my favorite on the go snacks. Not only are they tasty but easy to transport and enjoy on the go. As we all know, granola bars can be high in calories, but one benefit of granola bars is that they are perfectly portioned to prevent over indulgence. For my next recipe creation, I made my own granola bars using a few simple ingredients found in my pantry (and I bet yours too!).

     Too cut back on the calories and added sugars, I used just enough honey for a touch of sweetness and to help bind the oats. One of these granola bars contains only 165 calories, which is the perfect amount for a snack! For an even lower calorie version you can replace half of the oats with special K or another low sugar cereal  (i.e cheerios, corn flakes, bran cereal, rice crispies etc.)

Trail Mix Granola Bars

servings: 10
time: 30 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats (can replace 3/4 cup of oats with other low sugar cereal)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp honey (can substitute with maple syrup or agave nectar)
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (can substitute with almond butter)

1. Toast oats on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, until oats are golden brown.
2. In a medium size bowl mix oats, cinnamon, almonds, and craisins together.
3. In a small sauce pan heat up peanut butter, honey, and vanilla stir until combined and smooth.
4. Pour peanut sauce over oat mixture and mix until combined.
5. Line a 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper, so the granola bars are easy to remove.
6. Place granola mixture into lined baking dish and press down firmly with hands or spatula until mixture is evenly spread out.
7. Place baking dish in freezer for 15-20 minutes to allow bars to harden, then remove and cut into 10 peices.
9. Place bars in air tight container and enjoy within the week. 
(To extend shelf life, place container in freezer. Take out 10-20 minutes before eating to thaw. )


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Taste of Iceland: Skyr

       The one food I can't go a day without has to be yogurt. Whether it's for breakfast, a snack, or in a recipe I find some way to incorporate it into my day. Greek yogurt has been my go to until a recent trip to Iceland opened my eyes to a new and maybe even healthier yogurt, Skyr.

         When I first arrived in Iceland it seemed like everyone I saw was eating this " my Skyr" yogurt. After getting my first taste and could see why it was so popular!  The yogurt reminded me of Greek yogurt but had a thicker consistency and higher protein content. After doing some research I found that " Skyr" is an Icelandic strained dairy product that has been a staple of Icelandic cuisine for over a thousand years. To make Skyr, skim milk is strained of most of its water content by using almost 3-4 times as much milk as regular yogurt. This straining process gives the yogurt its thick consistency and high protein content.  Skyr also contains less added sugar per serving (~ 11 grams) than regular (~25 grams) or Greek yogurt (~16 grams) . 

        After arriving back in the states I was definitely feeling Skyr and Iceland withdrawal.  But to my surprise, through a conversation with a cousin about my trip (and my new yogurt addiction), there is a US brand of Icelandic Style Yogurt called Siggi's. I was able to find it at my local Target and have found it to taste very much like the yogurt I had in Iceland!

Skyr can be a perfect fit into many peoples diet including:
-those who are lactose intolerant (lactose is taken out during the straining process)
-those trying to loose weight, or cut back on calories/added sugars
-health nuts, like me!

So, for a little taste of Iceland and a healthier low sugar/low calorie yogurt option give Siggi's a try!
Stay tuned for more recipes using my new favorite yogurt!!..