Nutrition-Bites-Healthy-Harvest

Nutrition Bites: Healthy Harvest

The air has cooled, fall festivals are in full swing, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. The opportunities to indulge in amazing food are seemingly endless, which can make it difficult to choose healthier options. Fortunately, there are many fruits and vegetables that come into season this month, which means there will be a large selection of affordable, fresh produce.

Some of the vegetables that are currently in season include pumpkins, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, cauliflower, butternut squash, and carrots. Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and carrots are all high in vitamin A. This vitamin is generally known to be involved in vision; however there is more to vitamin A than meets the eye.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin A is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication. It also plays a part in cell growth and has a vital role in the normal function of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it is stored in the liver for long periods of time. The recommended dietary allowance (also known as RDA) for vitamin A is 700 mcg/day for adult females and 900 mcg/day for adult males (source).

Butternut squash soup is generally a favorite during the fall, but pre-made soups at restaurants and in stores can often contain a fair amount of butter and even heavy cream. Below is a recipe that deviates from traditional butternut squash soup by adding earthy red lentils and rich curry spices while leaving plenty of room for interpretation and flavor development.

By Emily Schlag, Tulane Dietetic Intern
October 2017

(Free stock photo courtesy of Pexels.com)

Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1 celery rib, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon curry powder
• ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
• 2 quarts water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Preparation:
Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat and then cook the squash, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, and ½ teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir in curry powder and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.
Add lentils and water and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender, 25 to 40 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and adjust seasoning as desired.
Additional Notes:
Serve over brown rice to create a hearty, filling meal.
Any color lentil will work with this recipe. Red lentils tend to become very soft, while green or brown lentils will hold their shape.
Shredded kale, spinach, or collard greens make a great addition.
Beans of any variety also do very well in this soup.

Other sources:
USDA Food composition database – a free, easy to use resource that can find the nutritional content of single ingredients and branded, manufactured products.
Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Topics:   diet , nutrition

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