Eating for the season: Invite Fall to your kitchen table

 

Thank you to our intro to solids/raising a healthy eater and cooking class nutrition teacher Virginia Watkins for sharing with us her insights for the season:

While the change of seasons in Northern California tends to be subtle when it comes to weather, the new foods each season brings are distinctive and exciting.  This month, say good-bye to summer tomatoes, corn, and berries and hello to local apples, winter squash, and brussel sprouts.

Not only are these new foods a nice change on the palate, they also offer different and beneficial nutritional profiles.  Even if your child loves blueberries, for example, make a point to learn about which fruits are in season now, and introduce those to her. Be sure you prepare some for yourself, too, so that you can converse about these new smells, textures, and flavors.

I recommend using Cuesa’s seasonal produce charts as a guide (link http://www.cuesa.org/eat-seasonally/charts/vegetables). Also, plan a visit to your local farmer’s market to get inspired to try something seasonal and maybe new to you, too!

 

The squash in this soup is sweet soothing and a great source of beta-carotene. Combined with rich broth, coconut milk, and spices, you’re giving yourself a great-tasting immune boost. Ginger is a warming herb and digestive aid. The coconut milk is a healthy source of fat that contains anti-microbial properties – think flu fighter.

Butternut Squash Soup

The squash in this soup is sweet soothing and a great source of beta-carotene. Combined with rich broth, coconut milk, and spices, you’re giving yourself a great-tasting immune boost. Ginger is a warming herb and digestive aid. The coconut milk is a healthy source of fat that contains anti-microbial properties – think flu fighter.

 

2-3lbs, about 4 cups butternut squash, or other winter squash such as kabocha or acorn

1 medium yellow onion

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp dried ginger

Sea salt

2 cups homemade chicken stock, or more for a thinner soup

3Ž4 cup coconut milk

1 lime (optional, citrus can be introduced at 8 months)

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place whole squash in oven and cook 25 minutes or until soft. Be sure to check at the narrower, neck end of the squash. (This can be done a day in advance.) Let squash cool, peel, cut in half, and scoop out seeds. Roughly chop.

 

Peel onion and finely chop.

 

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan and add onion. Season with 1Ž2 tsp sea salt and saute until golden. Add cooked and chopped squash, coriander, and ginger, and sauté a minute longer.

 

Add chicken stock, coconut milk, and another 1Ž2 tsp sea salt, and bring to a simmer.

 

Using a hand-held blender, puree contents of pot until smooth. Alternatively, add contents of pot in a few batches to a stand-up blender and blend until smooth. (This is a fun time to involve toddlers who love to push the button and hear the motor run.)

 

Ladle into bowls and serve with a wedge of lime. Alternatively, add the juice of a lime to the pot while blending.

 

Serving suggestions

v Omit coriander, ginger, coconut milk and lime. Replace with 1 tsp dried thyme, 3Ž4 cup cream, and 1Ž2 tsp nutmeg.

v For a sweeter soup, add one apple, peeled, cored, and sliced in quarters. Cook covered in the oven with the squash until soft. Add to pan at the same time as the squash.

 

 

Virginia Watkins completed her post-graduate studies in Nutrition Education at Bauman College in Berkeley, CA. While an undergraduate at Duke University, she studied French cooking in Montpellier, France, continuing an early fascination with food. In 1996, she began working at the American Institute of Wine & Food in San Francisco; Virginia helped create and manage projects ranging from ingredient tastings to a children’s garden project. Subsequently, she spent seven years working for Niman Ranch, the leading brand in the sustainable meat industry. As a National Retail Sales manager, she worked closely with customers such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. She is also the mother of a two well-fed boys, ages six and nine.

In addition to working with individuals and families to improve nutrition and health, Virginia has spoken to hundreds of people in community talks, leads a recurring 6-week cleanse, and teaches cooking classes to adults and preschoolers.

Please contact her at virginia@vwnutrition.com or 415 385 6538 if you are interested in improving your own or your family’s nutrition.