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All About Winter Squash

October5

All About Winter Squash - They may look weird, but they're wonderful!

Winter squash reminds me of football players. Not just because they’re both in season right now, but because they’re low in fat, usually large and have really tough skins (yet somehow manage to be pretty sweet on the inside!).

These vegetables are  also incredibly versatile and can be substituted for each other. They’re also high in vitamins and antioxidants… and they’ll keep for weeks if you store them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place (I’m not sure football players would like that).

When choosing winter squash, here’s what to look for:
• Firm, hard skin
• Deep rich color (lots of beta-carotene)
• Heavy for it’s size

These are some of the more popular winter squash and a few links to delicious recipes from other fantastic food bloggers:

All About Winter Squash. Acorn Squash - One of the most popular in America. It’s a little bland, which may be why it’s used in so many recipes.

Acorn Squash

One of the most popular in America. It’s a little bland, which may be why it’s used in so many recipes.

All About Winter Squash. Banana Squash: When you see cut up slabs of squash in the supermarket, it’s probably one of these. Thanks Melissa's Produce!

Image from Melissa’s Produce

Banana Squash

These are the huge… really, really huge. Halloween pumpkins can get big and round… these get big and long. When you see cut up slabs of squash in the supermarket, it’s probably one of these.

All About Winter Squash. Buttercup Squash - Dark green, dense and squat, sometimes with a turban on top, these squash are amazingly sweet.Buttercup Squash

Dark green, dense and squat, sometimes with a turban on top, these squash are amazingly sweet.

All About Winter Squash. Butternut Squash - Amazing flavor and versatility makes this the perfect all-purpose squash.Butternut Squash

A very distinctive squash with a buff-skin and long, straight solid neck and round bottom. Amazing flavor and versatility makes this the perfect all-purpose squash.

All About Winter Squash. Carnival Squash - The party animal in the squash family, these pumpkin-shaped squash are splashed with fall colors and have a sweet potato-like flavor.Carnival Squash

The party animal in the squash family, these pumpkin-shaped squash are splashed with fall colors and have a sweet potato-like flavor.

All About Winter Squash. Delicata Squash - Yellow or cream colored with dark green strips running down their oblong shape, these squash are easy to peel and are great for filling.Delicata Squash

Yellow or cream colored with dark green strips running down their oblong shape, these squash are easy to peel and are great for filling.

All About Squash. Hubbard Squash - Don’t let the “wart” covered skin keep you from trying this delicious squash in any of its color combinations (orange, blue or slate)!

Hubbard Squash

Don’t let the “wart” covered skin keep you from trying this delicious squash in any of its color combinations (orange, blue or slate)!

All About Winter Squash: Kabocha - Also known as Japanese pumpkin, the green, almost square-shaped Kabocha is similar to buttercup squash with a nice sweet flavor.Kabocha Squash

Also known as Japanese pumpkin, the green, almost square-shaped Kabocha is similar to buttercup squash with a nice sweet flavor.

All About Winter Squash. Spaghetti Squash: Substitute this lovely yellow squash for whole-wheat spaghetti and you’ll save 75-percent of the calories! Available year-round put peaks from early fall through winter.Spaghetti Squash

Substitute this lovely yellow squash for whole-wheat spaghetti and you’ll save 75-percent of the calories! Available year-round put peaks from early fall through winter.


Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

September12

You can Stand Up to Cancer by making sure you eat lots of these top 10 Cancer-Fighting Foods. How many of these are you eating regularly?

Garlic-Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

1. Garlic – Hard to say how much of this pungent herb you need to eat each day to prevent cancer… even the experts don’t know. But many studies have shown that garlic helps prevent cancer in the esophagus, stomach and colon. What’s a little bad breath in exchange for something this good for you?

Blackberries-Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

2. Berries – What’s not to love about blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries? Not only are they a fantastic source of antioxidants, fiber and Vitamin C… they may help prevent cancers of the bladder, lung, breast and esophagus.

Tomatoes- Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

3. Tomatoes – Whether you eat them fresh or out of a can, tomatoes are rich in the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene (that’s what gives them their red color!). Tomatoes are also full of Vitamin C and beta-carotene, and studies show that they have the potential to fight prostate cancer.

Purple Cauliflower- Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

4. Cruciferous vegetables – Veggies like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and bok choy all fall into this cancer-fighting category. These vegetables contain phytochemicals that may prevent stomach cancer and cancers of the mouth and larynx, uterine lining and cervix.

Green Tea - Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

5. Green Tea – Over the last 10 years, the popularity of green tea in this country has exploded. As most of us know, it’s been widely consumed in Japan, China and other Asian countries for centuries, where the incidence of cancers of the esophagus, stomach and colon are significantly lower. Green tea contains the antioxidant catechins, which some researchers believe may help protect against cancer and slow tumor growth.

corn tortillas - Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

6. Whole Grains – We all need more of the good grains in our diets… whole grains that have all three parts of the grain kernel (germ, bran and endosperm)… like oatmeal, barley, whole wheat and even popcorn! Corn tortillas are made of whole grains… flour tortillas are not. Whole grains are full of fiber that helps reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Turmeric- Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

7. Turmeric – When I was in Grenada, I met a woman selling raw turmeric (it looks like big grub worms when it is raw, and saffron colored once it’s dry and ground). Besides cooking curry, she uses this spice as an herbal remedy to prevent stomach ulcers and other intestinal disorders. Now, new research shows that it may prevent and slow the growth of several types of cancer… including stomach, breast and mouth cancers.

lettuce-  Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

8. Leafy Green Vegetables – If you eat romaine lettuce, kale and spinach, then you are on the right track for preventing breast, skin, lung and stomach cancer. These vegetables, and others like chard, mustard and collard greens are rich in fiber and antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein.

Grapes -  Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

9. Grapes – What? Grapes? I’ve been conditioned to think of grapes as nature’s sugar bombs. Well, they are full of sugar, but the skins of red and purple grapes are packed with the antioxidant resveratrol… which has the potential to keep cancer from forming in the liver, breast, stomach and lymphatic system.

Red beans-Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods

10. Beans – I grew up eating beans, and I still love them, so I’m glad beans are one of the Top 10 Cancer Fighting Foods. Dry beans and peas are mega sources of fiber, protein and folate. Studies have shown that folate helps reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.

There you have it: easy, simple things that you can eat to lower your risk of getting cancer. So, stand-up! Get to the grocery store or the farmer’s market and start eating better.

It’s easier than you realize… and you have everything to gain.

Note: My information was gathered from the doctors at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas, whom successfully treated my mother for breast and colon cancer. My mother’s cancer is in remission. Other information sources include the American Cancer Society  and The American Institute for Cancer Research.

Do Good. Dine Out. No Kid Hungry

September3

No Kid Hungry Dine Out September 2014

 

September is No Kid Hungry Month and, believe it or not, you have the opportunity to help fight hunger with your fork.

The average person will eat 90 meals in the month of September… we’re talking breakfast, lunch and dinner. That means you have 90 opportunities (well, since it’s September 3, a few less now) to dine out and make a difference for the 1 in 5 kids struggling with hunger in your community and mine.

This month, thousands of restaurants around the country are donating a portion of your meal tab to help kids get breakfast before school, after school meals and food in the summer. The money will also be used to teach kids the benefits of healthy eating and cooking.  To find a restaurant near you, click here.

If there are no participating restaurants in your area, you can still make a tax-deductible donation to No Kid Hungry… just click here. Did you know that $1 can provide a child with as many as 10 meals?

I believe every child deserves three meals a day… every day. How about you?

What is the Day of the Dead?

October30

What is the Day of the Dead?

What is Day of the Dead all about, you ask?

Dia de los Muertos, or The Day of the Dead, is not about death, it’s about celebrating life and welcoming back the spirits of the dearly departed.That’s the simplest way to explain this event that originated in Mexico and Central America with the Aztecs more than 3000 years ago and is now celebrated November 1 and 2. But what is the Day of the Dead exactly?

If you’re dying (ha-ha) to learn how you can participate in this Latino tradition and commemorate the life of someone you love, read on:

First things first:

Build an altar to honor your ancestor, either somewhere in your home or at their gravesite. The altar doesn’t have to be big, a table or a shelf will work. The altar is important because you’ll need some place to put all the stuff you gather to honor those in the afterlife. What stuff? Well…

Food: Traditionally tamales (yum!), Pan de Muerto (a sweet bread meant to represent the earth), and pumpkin or amaranth seeds are placed on the altar as a snack for the visiting spirits. But if your ancestor liked brisket… go for it.

Booze: What was your ancestor’s favorite libation? Get a bottle (or two) for the altar and another for you and your family members to toast the life of the departed. What is the Day of the Dead? Sugar Skulls:

I’m sure you’ve seen this traditional folk art from Southern Mexico. The elaborately decorated skulls are made from pure sugar and usually have the names of those who have passed written in icing across the forehead. What is the Day of the Dead?

Papel Picado:

This colorful, delicate tissue paper is hung like a banner around the altar and represents just how fragile life can be.

What is the Day of the Dead? Candles:

You’re going to want to load up your altar with candles. Lots of candles. Not only does it make the altar REALLY dramatic, it represents the light that guides your ancestor home. Day of the Dead Altar

Monarch Butterflies:

These butterflies make their appearance in Mexico about this time of year, which is why they are believed to be the spirits of visiting ancestors.

What is the Day of the Dead?

Photos:

Oh yeah! You’ll want everyone to know who’s being honored, so prop up a couple of pictures of your ancestor on the altar. Try to get images of things they did in every day life. That’s it… you’re ready to honor the spirit of someone you love who is in a much better place (we hope).

Now you are fully equipped to answer the question: What is The Day of the Dead?!

If doing all of this seems a bit overwhelming, the Smithsonian has a great interactive Day of the Dead website that will let you do it virtually. Click here to see it! So much easier than building an altar… but you won’t get to enjoy any tamales!

What is the Day of the Dead?

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Hi…
I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mama@mamashighstrung.com.