Are decorative pumpkins and gourds edible?

pumpkins-1708769_640

Jessica writes:

“We just threw out the pumpkins we had on our porch as decoration, and it made me wonder whether we could have eaten them. I bought them at the grocery store after all! 

Can you eat/cook any type of pumpkin? (I had a mix of regular, Cinderella, and maybe Yokohama.) If you can eat them, how long after you put them on your porch will they be edible? I’ve only used canned pumpkin to date, is the process of making your own challenging?”

Continue reading “Are decorative pumpkins and gourds edible?” >

New Ways to Use Whey Protein Powder

imagesAfter writing about the benefits of distributing your protein intake more evenly throughout the day, I heard from many of you that you were struggling to figure out how to get the recommended 25 – 30 grams of protein at breakfast and lunch–without eating meat at every meal!

So, when National Dairy Council challenged me to come up with some novel ways to incorporate whey protein powder into familiar meals and recipes, I jumped at the chance.

Why Whey?

Although there are lots of options, each with pros and cons, my protein powder of choice has always been unflavored whey protein. It’s a high-quality protein, neutral in flavor, versatile, relatively inexpensive and–unlike some of the legume based protein powders I’ve tried–doesn’t cause digestive issues (read: gas!).  I keep a big container of it in the pantry but until recently I only used it in smoothies.

As I’ve discovered, there are so many other ways to use whey protein powder to increase protein intake throughout the day. Getting the recommended amount of protein should be a snap. Continue reading “New Ways to Use Whey Protein Powder” >

Homemade Granola

Granola

I think this granola tastes so much better than store-bought brands. It’s also a lot lower in sugar. If you want to add raisins or other dried fruit, add after the cereal has cooled completely.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rolled oats (not-quick cooking)
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup whole flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Spread rolled oats evenly on a jelly roll pan and toast in oven for ten minutes, stirring once.
  3. Remove oats from oven transfer to a large mixing bowl with nuts and seeds.
  4. Combine honey and oil and heat over low heat (or place in microwave for a few seconds). Stir in vanilla and salt.
  5. Pour heated honey mixture over toasted oats and toss to coat.
  6. Spread mixture on jelly roll pan and return to oven for ten to fifteen minutes.
  7. Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.

Makes about 6 cups.

Recipe: Spinach and Feta Breakfast Strata

Savory Strata with Extra ProteinI’m always looking for ways to get more protein into breakfast so when National Dairy Council invited me to invent a new recipe featuring whey protein, I decided to work on a breakfast casserole…something simple to make but impressive enough to trot out for company. 

Calorie for calorie, protein can help you feel fuller longer than carbohydrates or fats. And whey protein powder is a convenient way to add complete, high-quality protein to a recipe. I use it almost every morning in my smoothie and now I’ve got a new “whey” to add protein to breakfast! Continue reading “Recipe: Spinach and Feta Breakfast Strata” >

Slow cooker recipe: Summer soup with white beans, kale, butternut and sweet corn

wheat bean kale corn soupA slow cooker is a great way to turn summer produce into a robust meal–without heating up the kitchen! This is one of my stand-bys

Ingredients

1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 small butternut squash, cubed
1-2 ears sweet corn, cut off cob
1 bunch kale, torn into pieces
1 onion, diced
1 quart stock (or water)
2 vegetarian chorizo sausage
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Garnish: Chopped parsley or cilantro, grated parmesan, good quality olive oil

Instructions

Place all ingredients into a 4 quart slow cooker. Add water if needed to cover by 1 inch. Cover and cook on high 6-8 hours or until beans and squash are tender. Garnish with herbs and cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Makes about 3 quarts.

Summer stew

 

 

Recipe: Pesto Grilled Asparagus

imageAs I pinched back my basil plants this morning, I suddenly realized that I still have a couple of packets of pesto in the freezer from last year’s harvest. Obviously, I can’t start making this year’s pesto until last year’s is consumed!

Yet, in the midst of a several-day stretch of hot, humid weather, I just couldn’t see putting a pot of pasta on to boil. Instead, I thawed out some pesto and tossed it with some asparagus I picked up from the farmer’s market this week and threw it on the grill for 15 minutes. The results were too good not to share.

I use this Epicurious recipe for basic pesto as a template, but often substitute other greens (such as arugula) or nuts (such as walnuts).