Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weekly Recipe #138: Baked Acorn Squash

By Andy Lakanen, Dietetic Intern, University of Minnesota & The Emily Program and on rotation with Open Arms

My family in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan makes this classic dish regularly throughout the fall season. I enjoyed this sweet and savory squash even as a younger “Yooper” (Upper Peninsula native). Indeed, the only thing that can make giant leaf piles, beautifully changing colors, and one last dip into Lake Superior any sweeter is baked acorn squash for dinner.

Don’t be fooled by the squash’s sweet taste; acorn squash contains more than a nut’s worth of nutritional value. It’s a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Beta carotene is made into vitamin A in the body, which has important functions, including helping maintain normal vision. You’ll need adequate night vision, especially during spooky Halloween nights! Vitamin C is important for a number of bodily functions and acts as an antioxidant. Potassium also serves many functions in the body, functioning as an electrolyte.

Classic Baked Acorn Squash (adopted from SimplyRecipes.com)
1 Acorn squash
1 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tsp Maple Syrup

Optional: 1Tbsp honey
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of Salt

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don't burn and the squash doesn't get dried out.

3. Coat the inside of each half with 1/2 a Tbsp of butter. Add a dash of salt if you are using unsalted butter. Add a Tbsp of brown sugar to the cavity of each half. Dribble on a teaspoon of maple syrup to each half.

4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not undercook. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weekly Recipe #137: Cauliflower Parmesan Fritters

By Alex Clough, University of Minnesota Medical Center – Fairview Dietetic Intern on rotation with Open Arms

I have been one to find it hard adding vegetables into my diet on a daily basis so I prefer to find unique, fun, and easy ways to jazz them up. Cooking fritters is simple and can be modified in different ways such as replacing the cauliflower with broccoli or carrots and switching up the seasonings to satisfy your particular taste buds.

Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous vegetable family and has a number of nutritional benefits. It is loaded with B vitamins, vitamin K and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and is an excellent source of Vitamin C and Manganese which are antioxidants. Due to all of the vitamins and antioxidants, cauliflower has been known for its anti-inflammatory features, help with digestion, and its link to cancer prevention!

Cauliflower Parmesan Fritters

Adapted from smittenkitchen.com
(Yields about 9 2inch fritters)

3 cups cauliflower (chopped)
1 large egg
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 small clove garlic (minced)
½ tsp. Kosher salt, plus more to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes or several grinds of black pepper
Olive oil for frying

- Cut off the large stems and cut the florets into 1 inch pieces.
- Peel stems and slice into ½ inch lengthwise pieces.
- Steam cauliflower until tender; boil water in a saucepan, add cauliflower simmer for about 5-6 minutes then set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl beat the egg, add flour, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, and semi cooled cauliflower and mash it all together (just enough so you can still see some chunks). Folding in the ingredients in the bowl after cauliflower is mashed.
- Add seasonings to taste.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add cover the pan with olive oil (~ 2-3 Tbsp).
- Scoop a 2 Tbsp. size mound of batter and drop it into the pan and flatten with spatula.
- Repeat with the rest of the batter, flipping when the underneath is golden brown, cooking the other side until it is equally as golden brown.
- Transfer to paper towels to drain the oil then to serving plate.

*To add protein try dipping the fritters in Greek yogurt; delicious!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Weekly Recipe #136: Asian Salmon Barley Soup

By Sara Patino, University of Minnesota - TEP Dietetic Intern, on rotation with Open Arms

At least once a year, my family and I stumble upon a scrumptious restaurant dish we can’t live without. One year, it happened to be a shockingly different, but oh so delicious, soup containing salmon and barley, and my parents frantically tried to recreate it. Luckily, they were able to identify the key ingredients in the soup and make a very similar dish for us all to enjoy. I actual prefer this soup to the original.

This soup offers a lot of nutritional power. Salmon is known for its high content of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to decrease cholesterol levels and protect against deterioration of one’s brain as it ages. Barley is high in selenium, which has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer.

Photo courtesy: Sara Patino

Asian Salmon Barley Soup (Serves 3 people)
Ingredients: 2 filets of wild Alaskan salmon
2 tbsp. tamari
1 long strand of shallot
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil 

1 cup barley
2 cups water
Pinch of sea salt
1.5 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
32 oz. low sodium vegetable stock
optional: cilantro


1. Cut the salmon into pieces and take off the skin if desired. Place it in a bowl with the tamari, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, and the green sections from the shallot. Leave it covered for 30-60 minutes.
2. While salmon is marinating, cook the barley with the water and a pinch of salt. Cook until there is no more water. Once cooked add the ginger to the barley.
3. Add the vegetable stock to the barley and place the stove on low. When the stock has boiled for 5 minutes, add in the salmon mixture and the rest of the shallots (the white sections).
4. Cook on low for about 10 minutes or until the salmon is fully cooked.
Optional: Garnish with cilantro.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Weekly Recipe #135: Salad Olivieh

By Hamed Samavat, University of Minnesota- The Emily Program Dietetic Intern, on rotation last week for Open Arms

Without a shadow of a doubt, Salad Olivieh is my most favorite salad, and this is something that all of my family and friends know. Whenever there is a picnic or potluck party, my Salad Olivieh is there! It is strange that I hated it when I was a kid and my sister was always gladly taking my share to school for her lunch. It was only after I moved to the U.S. (about 6 years ago) that I fell in love with it. Needless to say, my mom cannot still believe this. 

Salad Olivieh originates from Russia where they call it “Salad Olivier”. We, as Persians, have adapted and changed its recipe to a great extent. The original salad could have contained grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck, but we have replaced them with potato, egg, chicken, green pea, sour pickle, mayonnaise, and green onion.

You can make the chicken part at home, but it is usually simpler and faster if you buy the roasted chicken at a store like Rainbow, Costco, or Lunds. I love Salad Olivieh because it is yummy, easy to make, and makes you full for a main meal.

Salad Olivieh (Persian Chicken, Potato and Egg Salad)
(Adapted from www.thepomegranatediaries.com; Chronicles of Persian Cooking)
Serves 4-5
4 medium pieces of roasted chicken breast
3 hardboiled eggs
3 medium potatoes, peeled
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas, cooked
2 green onions, sliced (only the green parts)
1 cup diced sour pickles
1 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, as needed

  1. Put the potatoes in a pot half-full with boiling water. Let the potatoes cook for 30 minutes on a medium heat or until they are well cooked. Drain and let cool. Peel them completely and grate into small parts.
  2. Place the eggs into a small saucepan half-full with cold water. Bring it to boil and let it hard boil for 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. Peel and grate them into small parts.
  3. Grate the pickles into small pieces, and thinly slice green onions.
  4. Remove the meat off the roasted chicken, and turn them into small pieces by your hands.
  5. Add everything together in a large bowl.
  6. Add the mayonnaise, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix.
  7. Leave in the fridge for one hour to chill. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Weekly Recipe #134: Lentil Salad

By Sara Patino, University of Minnesota — TEP Dietetic Intern on rotation with Open Arms of MN

Lentils were always one of my favorite foods growing up. My family is from Colombia where beans and legumes are staples. My parents moved to the U.S. about 23 years ago and have been experimenting with their recipes ever since. Back in Colombia, lentils are usually cooked into a soup typically containing potatoes, carrots, and chicken. But my family was ready to try out a new way of preparing them that would make it easier to eat lentils during the summer months. This is when my dad decided to make them into a salad that would be quick, easy, and could serve as lunch for the majority of the work week.

Not only do lentils hold a special place in my heart, but they also help my heart stay strong and healthy. Lentils are high in fiber, which helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, prevent constipation, and lower cholesterol.

Below is a recipe that will provide you with awesome health benefits and satisfy your taste buds!

Photos courtesy: Sara Patino

Lentil Salad
(Serves 3 if main dish, 5 if side dish)

1 cup French lentils
2 1/2 cups of low sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup barley
2 cups water
1/2 brown rice
Sea salt
Vegetables [(all are optional and may be replaced by any vegetable of your choosing: peas, corn (I used Peruvian corn), carrots (shredded length wise), cucumber (diced into small squares, etc.)]
1 bunch parsley
6 chopped kalamata olives
1/2 large red onion diced into squares
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. grated fresh turmeric

1. Cook the French lentils in the vegetable stock until the stock has completely evaporated.
2. Cook the barley and brown rice in the water with a pinch of sea salt until the water has completely evaporated.
3. While completing #1, steam the vegetables of your choosing. In this salad, the vegetables that were steamed were the peas and corn.
4. Chop the bunch parsley and the kalamata olives, shred the carrots and dice the cucumbers and onions.
5. Mix the lentils, brown rice, and barley together with the steamed vegetables and set aside. Mix the parsley, kalamata olives, carrots, onions and cucumbers in a separate bowl.
6. To the bowl containing the parsley add the extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a dash of both sea salt and pepper, and the turmeric. Mix well.
7. Once the lentils, brown rice, and barley cooled, mix both bowls together. Allow the flavors to spread among all the ingredients.