First Post: Baked Winter Squash with Honey Sour Cream
Second Post: Sweet Sour Sesame Red Cabbage
My coloring project series involving vegetables on the plate seems very timely. In mid-November, five years after the start of its National Action Plan to Promote Health Through Increased Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) issued a report card:
To determine how much progress has been made since 2004 and offer updated strategies for creating a healthier American by closing the persistent, ongoing gap between actual and recommended fruit and vegetable consumption.
Uh oh, persistent and ongoing gap in fruit and vegetable consumption? So, hey, who's not making the grade? Well, it seems both adults and teens got a grade of F:
- Adults for a decline in the percent who achieve their veggie consumption goal (now just 7% of men and 5% of women, down from 9% and 7% respectively in 2005)
- Teens for a decline in average fruit and veggie consumption levels (now 1.76 cups per day down from 1.84 in 2005).
Children received a D grade, because even though fruit and vegetable consumption has increased over the past five years, nine of 10 children do not eat the recommended number of servings of either fruits or vegetables.
NFVA is an alliance of public and private partners working collaboratively and synergistically to increase nationwide access to and demand for all forms of fruits and vegetables for improved public health. The Alliance is co-chaired by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH). Because NFVA is a public-private partnership, it comes as no surprise that the recommenations from NFVA focus on schools, nutrition education and aligning federal dollars to be consistent with the national Dietary Guidelines.
I say, let's also celebrate the culinary aspects of vegetables and make them fun and tasty. One sure way to get teens and adults to eat vegetables is through mixed dishes like this chicken Thai stir fry that includes butternut squash and broccoli.
In addition its presence in the vegetables, fiber in this dish can be increased with choice of rice, whole grain brown versus enriched white. If you have have any finicky palates in the house, brown rice isn't always a big hit. But I have discovered that by making the rice half brown and half white, I don't get any complaints. And, in fact, that mirrors several studies exploring approaches to increasing whole grain consumption. Sneaking in some whole grain is better than none, and this approach fits perfectly with the Dietary Guidelines advice to "make half your grains whole." Brown rice has a longer cooking time than white, so you start cooking the brown rice and add in the white later - specific directions below.
Yield: 6 servings
Preparation Time: 1 hour
1 c brown rice
3.5 c water, divided
1 c white rice
1/3-1/2 butternut squash
2 broccoli stems
1/2 white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 white button mushrooms
2 T peanut or canola oil, divided
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/3 c crunchy natural peanut butter
2 T pad Thai sauce
2 T soy sauce
2 T water
1 T Thai chili garlic paste
1 t Thai fish sauce
Start cooking the rice while you prepare the vegetables and chicken. Place brown rice and 1.75 c water in 2 quart sauce pan. Cover with lid and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add remaining water and white rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat. After five minutes fluff the rice with a rice paddle or large wooden spoon.
I want to draw your attention to two things in this photo, other than the lovely green and orange colors:
- One is that butternut squash is extraordinarily meaty compared to the seed and fiber. One butternut squash will provide about 6 cups of cubed squash.
- Two is the length of the broccoli stems. Have you ever noticed that the organic broccoli is sold (of course, by the pound) with really long stems?
The towering organic broccoli trees were a pet peeve until I discovered that instead of composting half of your purshase, you could grate or dice the stems for use in stir fry. I prefer to peel the stem before grating or cutting. I just started using the handy peeling knife shown in this picture. I think I like the action better than a peeler. If you decide to use a peeling knife, you definitely want to scrape away rather than toward you, lest the handle end of the curved blade catch your thumb. I saved myself before I did too much damage.
Next you want to prepare the sauce, because you don't want any distractions while you're stir frying. Mix all sauce ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
If you don't have a wok, you can still stir fry, using a method similar to wok cooking. You start with the ingredient requiring the longest cooking time, push it to the rim of the pan when it's almost done, then add the next ingredient and do the same thing, until all your stir-fry ingredients have been added. So we're going in order in this recipe from longest to shortest cooking time.
Add onions and garlice to sauce pan first to flavor oil. Cook about two to three minutes. Then add butternut squash. Let cook about 10 minutes until slightly undercooked. Push to outside of pan. Add broccoli cubes.
Per-serving Nutritional Profile:
Fat, 15 g
Saturated Fat, 2.5 g
Cholesterol, 40 mg
Carbs, 65 g
Dietary Fiber, 5 g
Protein, 25 g
Sodium, 570 mg
Vitamin A, 110% Daily Value
Vitamin C, 45% Daily Value
Calcium, 6% Daily Value
Iron, 15% Daily Value