Tag Archives: squash

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

26 Jan

As a dietitian, I occasionally receive mailings from food companies. Some are practical, like summaries of the latest research and coupons for new products. Others are less useful. Exhibit A: Quaker® recently mailed out a document highlighting the benefits of consuming orange juice and oatmeal together— a “synergistic” benefit, the materials touted. Yes, vitamin C can enhance iron absorption, but this is hardly a new concept in the nutrition world. Furthermore, is an ‘orange oat smoothie’ the most appealing way to combine these nutrients? I would rather add berries to my oatmeal, thank you very much. Innovation in the food industry can help create more healthful food items, but sometimes food companies try a bit too hard to make basic nutrition sound cutting-edge and sexy.

Recipes are one of the best things to receive in the mail, especially when I get around to actually making them (instead of having them accumulate dust in the binder o’recipe clippings). A few weeks ago, I was sifting through said binder and discovered an old favourite from the people at Becel®. The ingredients are simple (leeks, butternut squash, spinach) while the flavour is anything but.


Leeks don’t make it into my kitchen very often. But when they do, I realize that I’m missing out by not cooking with them more regularly. Sautéed leeks elevate the most basic of dishes with an umami flavour that packs more punch than you would expect from such a humble member of the Allium family. Just be sure you wash them well— nobody wants sand in their teeth! I used the leftover leeks from this recipe to make a crustless quiche and was surprised by how much flavour they brought to an otherwise simple dish.

Enough about leeks, though. The star of this soup is the butternut squash, whose natural sweetness infuses the broth while simmering. It was so flavourful that I didn’t even need to add salt! The chili flakes balance the sweetness really nicely and generous handfuls of spinach add a pop of colour.


With the cold weather upon us, a warm bowl of soup really hits the spot. And with the indulgent holiday season now behind us, starting a meal with soup can also help with weight management. What’s not to love?

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Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup
(from Becel® Canada)

1-1/2 tbsp light margarine (or 1 tbsp regular margarine or olive oil)
1 leek (pale green and white part only), washed well and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp hot chili flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low sodium or no-salt-added)
2 cups baby spinach leaves (I use much more!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)

  1. In a large pot, heat margarine or oil over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic. Sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in chili flakes, cumin, squash and carrots, stirring for 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 25 to 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  3. Stir in spinach and simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 115 kcal, 4 g fat (0.7 g saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fibre, 7 g protein.

The ultimate “superfood” recipe… from a super friend!

25 Nov

After hearing me complain about not having the time and energy to cook often, my near and dear friend JC offered to write a guest post on a fabulous recipe she recently cooked up.  It sounded so good that I was sufficiently motivated to get in the kitchen earlier this week to try it out for myself.  Thank you, Jess!

My life and gastrointestinal system was changed forever after 2 years of cohabitation with Lisa. Brownies made with black beans? Substituting applesauce for oil in cake? And perhaps the most influential dietary change involved making rabbit food aka bran buds part of my daily routine.

Four years since I spread my wings and moved out on my own, I continue to be inspired by Lisa’s baking and cooking creations! How does she manage to make such healthy, fibre-packed creations so damned delicious. My own culinary adventures range from comical failures (really, how does one manage to mess up the peanut butter cookie recipe on the back of the jar) to raging successes – which I am sharing with you today.

While having never made kale before, I have often read about its wonder as a “superfood!!” Classic google search “healthy recipe and kale and delicious” (those people at google really can read my mind), led to this truly delectable concoction! Immediately after having my first bite, I texted, “I literally just made the most delicious creation of life…I think it is blog worthy.” So here you are! Enjoy!

Nutritious and Delicious!

Squash, Tofu, and Kale Curry
(from Eatingwell.com)

Due to my life in Northern Ontario, my odd working hours, and limited grocery store hours, I made a couple small modifications – using an acorn squash and green curry paste instead of what was listed on the recipe.  Note: I (Lisa) made a few other substitutions of my own which can be found below.

2 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Madras
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 (16-ounce) package extra-firm or firm, water-packed tofu
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 large delicata squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes  (I used 1 medium butternut squash)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 14-ounce can “lite” coconut milk
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
8 cups coarsely chopped kale or chard, tough stems removed
1 tablespoon lime juice, plus more to taste
Optional: Sriracha for added heat!

  1. Combine curry powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Blot tofu dry with a paper towel and cut into 1-inch cubes; toss the tofu in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring every 2 minutes, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add squash, onion, ginger and the remaining spice mixture; cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.  (Note: I boiled the squash for ~5-10 minutes before adding it at this step, but I think it will probably cook through if you follow the recipe as written).  Add coconut milk and brown sugar; bring to a boil. Add half the kale (or chard) and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the rest of the greens and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Return the tofu to the pan, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the squash and greens are tender, 3 to 5 minutes more.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in lime juice.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 410 kcal, 47 g CHO, 9 g fibre, 19 g fat (6.6 g saturated), 22 g protein, 373 mg sodium.

Everything in Moderation: “Pumpkin” Pie and More!

19 Oct

As a follow-up to my Thanksgiving entry, today I bring you a guest post from my friend Jacalyn who has graciously agreed to share her mom’s squash pie recipe.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

I was asked by a reader of this blog to post my Mom’s deliciously rich “pumpkin” pie recipe.  As you read from the last blog post, the pie was actually made with squash, not pumpkin.  Let’s face it, Squash Pie doesn’t sound as appealing.  Why squash?  Well, squash is much richer in flavour than pumpkin.

This photo hardly does the squash pie justice!

Not a crumb of pie left on anyone’s plate… enough said.

After telling my Mom that her pie recipe went down a treat at Lisa’s Thanksgiving dinner party and that someone on Lisa’s blog wanted the recipe, she was thrilled and more than happy to share it with you all.  In fact, she was so excited that she headed with great gusto to her recipe cupboard and pulled out my Great Grandma Goodwin’s (circa 1890) “pumpkin” cookie recipe and said “give them this recipe too!”  So, below are two very simple but much loved recipes from the Goodwin household. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: These recipes have not been modified to be healthier…but remember everything in moderation.  In other words, don’t eat the whole pie in one sitting!

“Pumpkin” (aka Squash) Cookies


“Pumpkin” Pie 

1 cup cooked squash
(a drier squash is preferred such as a Hubbard or Buttercup)
¾ cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
3 small or 2 large eggs
¾ cup milk (2%)
¾ cup evaporated milk (or 18% cream)
2 heaped tsp of pumpkin spice
(mixture of ground nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger)
¼ tsp salt

1 unbaked pastry shell
Whipped cream

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine all pie filling ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into uncooked pastry shell.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes (this cooks the pastry); then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes or until centre is set.
  4. Garnish with whipped cream.


Deliciously Soft “Pumpkin” Cookies

Wet ingredients
1 ¼ cups of brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 eggs
½ cup cooked squash
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients
2 ½ cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ tsp of pumpkin spice
(or use a mixture of ground ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon)
1 cup raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 335 degrees Fahrenheit (convection oven) or 345 degrees Fahrenheit (conventional oven).  In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, butter and eggs.
  2. Add squash, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to squash mixture and mix until all ingredients are well combined; mix in raisins.
  4. Drop “pumpkin” batter from a teaspoon onto greased baking sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes or until just turning brown on bottom (will continue to cook when you remove from oven).

Makes approximately 2 ½ dozen cookies.


The Summer Squash Conundrum

10 Aug

I was at the garden on Monday morning to tend to “my” bean plants, which haven’t been doing so well.  I call them my bean plants because I have a bit of an attachment to them; back in May I was assigned the task of planting the kidney bean-like seeds along the west fence of the garden.  Since then, I have diligently watered and weeded around the seeds, anxiously waiting for the plants to flourish.  Some have grown significantly while most have had their tops eaten off by the deer.  Sigh.  On a positive note, a few of the plants have recently flowered so it looks like there will be beans (if only a few) after all.

While at the garden, I picked up a few treats: a turnip (great for turnip “fries”, which look just like french fries but have that characteristic turnip bitterness), a few patty pan squash, and a handful of these odd looking berries:

Cape Gooseberries (aka Ground Cherries)

After a bit of research, I discovered that these are called cape gooseberries (also known as ground cherries) and grow inside of a husk-like pod, which creates a beautiful “leaf” at the top of the berry when opened.  As for taste, they are kind of like a sweet, fruity tomato.  Not my favourite, but they’re pretty and make a nice garnish.

Now, to the squash.  I picked up two patty pans that were lying in the middle of the garden after having been dislodged from their respective plants after a thunderstorm the night before.  I also picked one that was MASSIVE because I figured it would have otherwise gone to waste.

The patty pan squash family

While trying to decide what to do with my squash family, I went online to read up on patty pans.  They come in 3 different colours (yellow, green, and white– we have the white variety in our garden), have a similar texture and taste as zucchini, and are normally cooked when they are no more than 2 to 3 inches in diameter.  Uh oh.  My little guy fit the bill but the massive one was more like 8 inches!  Apparently there is no harm in eating larger patty pans but they tend to lose flavour and tenderness with age.  With that, I decided to slice and saute the two smaller ones in a little bit of olive oil (delicious! tasted just like sauteed zucchini) and I chopped up the massive one to make… a SOUP!

This soup was totally improvised so the recipe below is just a guide.  The best (and most necessary) part is the Moroccan spice mix.  I had some leftover from a snack I made last week (roasted chickpeas, which I am still determined to perfect… more on that another day) and decided to throw some in.  It’s a super flavourful spice mix that will definitely become a staple in my spice rack.  For this soup you can use just about any summer squash– zucchini, yellow summer squash, or patty pans.

Summer Squash Soup

Summer Squash Soup

1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 extremely large patty pan squash or 4 zucchinis, chopped into 1 inch cubes
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth (or water)
2 tsp Moroccan spice mix (see below)
salt, to taste (optional)

  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until softened and beginning to brown.
  2. Add squash and saute for another minute.  Add spice mix and saute for 1 minute, or until spices become fragrant.
  3. Add vegetable broth, cover pot, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat, allow to cool slightly, and puree in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender.  Add salt to taste.  Serve warm or cold.

Makes 3 servings.  Per serving: 105 kcal, 3 g fat, 3 g fibre, 300 mg sodium


Moroccan Spice Mix    (from Fine Cooking magazine)

2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp sweet paprika (I used regular)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch of ground cloves

Mix all spices together and store in a glass jar.