As you may have figured out by now, I am a huge locavore. There is (almost) nothing that gives me more pleasure than enjoying fruits and vegetables that just hours earlier, were plucked from a field at the peak of ripeness. Sadly, in the dark days of January, this is a tough task to accomplish, especially for my beloved super-foods: the leafy greens.
This is where their understudies come in: the bright oranges. You may know them as carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes. Not to dis the greens, but orange veggies are major power players in the super-foods arena.
Orange veggies contain tons of beta carotene and vitamin B6, two of the essential nutrients in revving up your immune system-that's in addition to their tons of other nutrients that have been shown to lower the risk of cardio-vascular disease, protect your eyes, and even help prevent breast cancer.
Being healthy and in-season are only two reasons I love these vegetables at this time of year. The others, of course, being that they are delicious, have a long shelf life, and are relatively inexpensive...compared to asparagus imported from Peru.
One of my favourite orange veggie recipes is Roasted Butternut Squash soup. Its super-easy to prepare, super-delicious, and super-healthy. In addition to the nutrients from the squash, there are added health benefits from the curry powder and maple syrup, both of which sweeten your antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defences.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Pears
Alongside grilled cheese, this soup makes a light, but satisfying winter lunch or dinner.
1 Medium-sized Butternut squash
2 pears, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp curry powder
½ tsp cinnamon
4 cups chicken/vegetable broth
1-2 tbsp real maple syrup
s & p to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 & place the whole squash on a cookie sheet. Roast for about an hour or until it is very soft when poked with a fork. When it's done, let cool until you're able to handle it and then cut in half, scoop out the seeds and put the flesh in a small bowl. In the meantime...
2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in onions and pears, along with a little sprinkle of salt, and cook until they are very soft and beginning to brown. Try to not stir too much as that will impede the caramelization.
3. Add in the curry powder and cinnamon, stirring to coat. Adding in the spices before the broth give them a blast of heat which helps to release the antioxidants.
4. Add in the broth & squash; bring to a boil and then remove from the heat.
5. Using either a traditional or immersion blender, blend until smooth.
6. Add in the maple syrup, and salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve, with an optional garnish of a tab of Greek Yogurt.
What's your favourite way to eat your "oranges"?