The Flavors of Fall

11 10 2013
Cathy Shaw

Cathy Shaw

October is in full swing, and I must admit it is my favorite time of year to spend in the kitchen.  It is a great time of year to try some of the best seasonal fruits and vegetables. Apples, pumpkin and winter squash are in abundance right now, just waiting to be thrown into your favorite dishes. Apples can be added to almost any dish, from whole wheat pancakes and muffins to cole slaw and pork roast. They add vitamins, minerals and fiber, as well as that wonderful aroma of cooked apples in the kitchen. Pumpkin is just as versatile. It can be added to many dishes for that great pumpkin flavor as well as over 2,500 IU of Vitamin A and 7 grams of fiber per cup (and for only 49 calories!!) Butternut squash can be chopped and easily roasted in the oven for a sweet and nutritious side dish or added to soups and casseroles. Grocery stores are even carrying butternut squash in the salad isle that is already peeled, chopped and washed in a steamable bag- how easy is that? Sweet potatoes are also a fall favorite and can be substituted for white potatoes to provide a power packed dose of Vitamin A.

Fall cooking to me brings to mind aromas of cinnamon and cloves and many of the same colors as the falling leaves. The flavors of fall are warm, spicy and robust.  The foods can be rich and comforting, but nutritious as well. As a registered dietitian I am always looking for ways to incorporate fresh, highly nutritious foods into our everyday favorites. The recipe of the week this week is a twist on everyone’s favorite comfort food, macaroni and cheese, made lower in fat than traditional homemade mac and cheese with the added surprise of roasted butternut squash. If you think your kids may not like it, trust me, they will. It has been “kid tested” at my house and has passed with an A+!  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Casserole

Source: Parents Magazine

Serves 6 (~1c each) or can be made into 12, 1/2c servings as a side dish

½ of a Butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes (or purchase pre-peeled and cubed butternut squash from the produce dept…way easier!!!) This should be about 2 cups.

2 teaspoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

½ pound whole wheat elbow macaroni

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

1 ½ c reduced fat milk (not skim)

1 ¾ c low fat cheddar cheese, shredded and divided (or 7oz pkg pre-shredded)

Preheat oven to 375. Toss squash with olive oil and salt on a foil lined tray. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender and set aside.

Cook pasta for 2 min less than the package directions; drain and place in a bowl with squash. Meanwhile melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 min.

Slowly whisk in milk. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 ½ cups of the cheese; stir until melted. Stir the cheese sauce into the pasta and squash.

Spoon into 6 greased individual ramekins (8oz). Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10 minutes.

Nutrition facts per serving: 330 cal, 13g fat, 7g saturated fat, 39g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 17g protein, 349mg Sodium

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